Over 40 illegal miners were arrested and charged following a rescue operation at an illegal makeshift mine in Roodepoort, reports Vicky Sidler.

The incident occurred the night of Tuesday 7 January 2013, following the alleged attack underground by a rival group. A survivor claimed the men had been held hostage by five armed men demanding the illegally-mined gold.

“The suspects went into the shaft and took gold from other illegal miners and they hit them with iron until they died,” said the police’s Disebo Selepe.

No bodies have been recovered, but survivors are being treated for moderate injuries. All survivors were immediately arrested and charged with illegal mining and trespassing. The group is expected to start making court appearances today.

Several weapons have been confiscated by the police as evidence, and an investigation into the alleged violence and hostage situation is underway.