On 19 June 2019 it was reported to FZON (Forzando North) management that the Police received a report of an unknown number of trespassers who allegedly entered the underground workings of FZON for unknown reasons. According to the family who reported to the police, they received information from one of the suspects (based in Lesotho at the time of reporting) that their family members were underground and needed help and rescue from the mine. The alleged trespassers entered through an old closed-off ventilation shaft.
Upon receiving the information, a mine team and management started investigating the possibility of trespassers entering the mine. Over a period of almost four weeks, the search for the trespassers continued, including a search of all coal mining levels of the mine and old mine workings, as well as draining of flooded areas, whilst ensuring the safety of the rescue team throughout this search process.
On 15th July 2019, bodies of eight men were finally found in one of the last sections of the old mine workings to be pumped empty of water and searched with the assistance of guard dogs and Proto teams. The bodies of the deceased were brought to the surface and transferred to a mortuary by SAPS. The identity of the men and their intent for the entry of the mine will be investigated by SAPS.
We regret the loss of lives of the eight men and Exxaro extends its condolences to the families of the deceased.