Tue, 27 Jul 2021

  • On Monday, family members identified 10 of the illegal miners found dead near Orkney.
  • Their remains will be taken back to Lesotho for burial.
  • The bodies of the illegal miners were found near a mine shaft and a public road last week.

Only 10 of the illegal miners found dead near Orkney last week have been identified, North West Premier Job Mokgoro said on Monday.

Mokgoro and Lesotho Consul General Selimo Thabane accompanied family members of the miners to the Tshepisong Mortuary in Klerksdorp for the grim task of identifying the bodies.

Twenty bodies were found near an unused shaft near Lawrence Park and along a public road. It is not clear yet what happened to them.

Some of the bodies had name tags on them or the name of a village.

In a statement, the premier's office quoted a relative after Monday's sad gathering.

"The family is deeply saddened by what happened," said Msayinisi Majola, a cousin of one of the deceased.

"It is my cousin who died, and he was still very young," Majola said.

"It was his first time working as an illegal miner. He came here (to) South Africa on the 8th of May 2021, and he didn't even know the place very well. No one in the family knew that he went to the mines," he said.

READ | North West premier calls for immediate action after 20 bodies found near mine

At a press briefing, Mokgoro welcomed the Lesotho government's commitment to help solve illegal mining activities in the area.

"What happened here is quite unfortunate. We have already identified some of the bodies, and they are those of bona fide citizens of the Mountain Kingdom," Thabane said.

"Through the assistance of the police we received a list of 15 deceased persons but we managed to identify only 10 as citizens of Lesotho," he said.

Mokgoro said the Lesotho government indicated it would help fight illegal mining.

"We are dealing with a massive international challenge but we are committed to the challenge," he said.

"As responsible leaders, we must not be too quick to blame. We should rather intensify our effort to understand the problem at hand and be able to break its back."

The SABC reported that Mokgoro said the miners were well organised and heavily armed.

Source: News24

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