The mine manager of China Africa Precious Metals (CAPM) Isaac Tshabalala says according to their information more illegal miners could have died in an unconfirmed explosion at a mine near Orkney in the North West.

The the discovery of 20 bodies believed to be those of illegal miners were found near two ventilation shafts at Lawrence Park and Ariston Road on Tuesday.

The badly burned and decomposed bodies were found in grain bags on the surface near the mine.

Tshabalala was speaking during a visit by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to the area on Wednesday.

CAPM bought the mine a few years ago but has struggled to reopen shafts due to illegal mining activity in the area. Tshabalala says they have since dispatched private security to monitor the Lawrence Park site.

“We suspect that there are still some more bodies underground. We can’t confirm the number but I heard the number 37 being mentioned on Monday. If 37 is the right number, then it means we still have got 17 more to come out, if that is the number,” explains Tshabalala.

Mantashe concerned about illegal mining

Meanwhile, Minister Gwede Mantashe has raised concerns about the impact of illegal mining in communities.

Mantashe says it is an attack on the country’s economy and must be dealt with decisively.

The minister says his department will meet with relevant stakeholders, including the office of the Minister for Police to provide backup to private security in areas where illegal activities are prevalent.

SABC News reporter Tebogo Phakedi speaks to the police on the incident: