The Consul General of Lesotho says they are embarrassed about their countrymen’s involvement in illegal mining activities in South Africa. Selimo Thabane was talking to North West Premier Job Mokgoro ahead of the identification of 10 decomposed bodies at the government mortuary in Klerksdorp.
Twenty bodies wrapped in grain bags were discovered at an abandoned mine shaft in Orkney last week. Most of the deceased are believed to be Lesotho nationals.
The bodies were discovered after a video of a man asking for help from underground surfaced:
Lesotho authorities met with the North West Provincial Government at the Matlosana Local Municipal Chambers, in Klerksdorp on Monday.
Both sides expressed concern about the unlawful activities. Premier Job Mokgoro says illegal mining is costing the South African economy around R14 billion per annum.
He says the operations seem to be well organised.
“These operators are connected to the syndicate internationally; in addition to that, they are heavily armed. I think it is a common course they actually carry AK 47s. We were told the other day that underground the extent of organisation is quite sophisticated inter alia they have human resource management.”
Thabane also expressed his government’s disappointment.
“It is quite unfortunate what has transpired, it is so unfortunate. The manner in which these operations are been done it’s a risk on its own. It is also a burden, it’s unfortunate and I honestly don’t know what to say. We will have a meeting at a high level, perhaps we will find a way in how we could try and see, what is it that we could do.”
After the talks, the delegation proceeded to the mortuary at Tshepong Hospital, where some family members identified their loved ones.
Tone Sekare, who hails from Botha-Bothe village in Lesotho, lost three of his younger brothers. However, he says his family is relieved to have positively identified them.
“I feel relieved that they are found after they were missing for a long time. But I appreciate the work that has been done in order for me to go and bury them.”
Thabane, explains how they have identified the deceased.
“I was given a list of 15; in that list, I was able to find 10 Basotho Nationals. You will know that some names would have name tags. Some bodies will just have a name, and phone number, some bodies will just have a village. We were able to get them, I mean with the assistance of Lesotho police, with Chiefs and council member, we were able to find the bodies.”
Authorities in Lesotho have committed to take care of the repatriation of all the bodies of the deceased.