- The Free State police have opened an inquest after seven bodies of unknown people were discovered inside a shaft at Kopanang Mine in Vierfontein, Free State.
- The police said the identity, age, gender and country of origin of the deceased people were unknown.
- Free State police said they were believed to be illegal miners.
The Free State police have opened an inquest after seven bodies were discovered inside a mineshaft at Kopanang Mine in Vierfontein.
Police said the identity, age, gender and country of origin of the deceased people were unknown.
They were discovered at 07:50 on Thursday, said police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele.
Makhele said it’s believed the bodies were those of illegal miners.
“According to Kopanang Mine management, all their employees are accounted for and are still present,” said Makhele.
He said the bodies were brought to the surface by a mine rescue team and were handed over to the Kroonstad state mortuary.
Makhele added that a post-mortem would be conducted in Bloemfontein to establish the identity of the victims.
In a separate and unrelated incident, four members of a feared Free State gang – Born To Kill (BTK) – were each sentenced to an effective 18 years’ direct imprisonment for murder, Makhele said.
Makhele said the gang members had fatally attacked a former member, Malefane Nhlapho, on 30 September 2018.
The incident happened after the victim approached them to buy cigarettes at midnight, said Makhele.
“Upon his arrival, they assaulted him and stabbed him to death. They were accusing him of joining another gang and [of] removing a BTK tattoo. A case of murder was opened for investigation and Detective Sergeant Lefa Letlojane ensured that the four were denied bail.”
The four are Moeketsi Letlaka, 21, Retshedisitswe Raleting, 25, Lehlohonolo Ntunga, 22, and Tshediso Makhema.
“They were each sentenced to 18 years’ direct imprisonment for murder on 1 December 2020 before Botshabelo Regional Court,” said Makhele on Saturday.