Police in South Africa discovered 20 decomposing bodies of suspected illegal miners in an abandoned goldmine shaft southwest of Johannesburg.
“The first five bodies were discovered on Monday and 15 (more) bodies” on Tuesday, police spokesman Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone told AFP on Wednesday.
In a statement, police said they are investigating the cause of the deaths, adding that the men’s bodies “were found wrapped in white plastic bags” and bore “severe body burns”.
“All the deceased are suspected to be illegal miners commonly known as ‘zama zamas’ operating in obsolete shafts in Orkney and Stilfontein,” just under 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, police said in the statement.
Thousands of “zama zamas” — which means “those who try their luck” in Zulu — operate in the country, according to the South African Human Rights Commission.