Sunday 7 July 2024


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said an inquest has been opened by the South African Police Service (SAPS) following the death of four of its members on Saturday, July 6 in Orkney in the North West.

In a statement released on Sunday, the SANDF said the soldiers were on duty as part of Operation Vala Umgodi - an operation that deals with illegal mining activities.

The soldiers were deployed to a 24-hour shift at Shaft 3, a dormant mining shaft in Orkney near the disused Harry Oppenheimer stadium which has been a hotspot for illegal mining.

“The deceased members were found inside a container structure which was used as a guard house for those on 24-hour duty on the morning of July 6, 2024, when the next shift was taking over the following day, upon opening the doors of the container.

“The SAPS was called in and upon inspection of the scene, all four had died, with their rifles on them and their personal items still with them,” the SANDF said.

A district surgeon was called to the scene and examined the bodies and confirmed the soldiers sustained no injuries.

“A team from the Pretoria FSL Chemistry Unit also attended the scene, and preliminary findings are that the death of the members could have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a possible fire made by the members during the cold night inside the container structure,” the SANDF said.

The bodies of the soldiers were transported to the Klerksdorp State mortuary for further investigation and for the post-mortems to be conducted.

“The names of the deceased will be announced once the families have been informed and all processes and formalities have been completed followed with the announcement of the funeral arrangements,” the SANDF said.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Angie Motshekga, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Bantu Holomisa, and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Richard Mkhungo, together with Acting Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede and the Chief of the SANDF, General Rudzani Maphwanya sent their condolences to the families of the deceased and the entire defence family. IOL


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