Illegal miners held hostage in South Africa

Johannesburg, Jan 8: Dozens of illegal miners were held hostage by rival workers at a makeshift mine in Roodepoort near Johannesburg, media reports said Tuesday.

A miner alerted the police who rushed to the scene and rescued the miners from underground, Xinhua quoted Eyewitness News as saying.

Some weapons were also found at the site and at least two people are being treated for injuries, the report said, indicating that violence had broken out between rival groups of miners.

The rescued miners were arrested for illegal mining, Eyewitness News said. Some miners were killed when a rival group of miners attacked several men underground Monday, the man who reported the incident to police was quoted as saying. But the claim could not be verified.

However, the incident highlights the severity of illegal mining in the country.

A 2010 study showed that $571 million were being lost to illegal mining annually.

In July last year, three miners were killed by rival workers in a shaft in Kingsway in Springs, about 30 km east of Johannesburg.

IANS