Police have chased so many suspects on the road and also on foot, but will they chase them into an old mine with so many tunnels that could collapse at any moment?
One of the four suspected emerald stone thieves at Gravelotte Emerald Mine found out the answer on Wednesday, September 19.
Police said that after four suspects robbed a mine manager at gunpoint of stones worth R700 000 at his home in Gravelotte, the men tried to evade the police.
Three men were apprehended and the fourth suspect evaded capture.
“The fourth suspect jumped into an old mine shaft to evade arrest. The process of removing him is still unfolding,” said Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe, Limpopo Police Spokesperson, in an initial statement.
According to Gravelotte CPF, three suspects were apprehended through the help of CPF, Big Game Heli, community members and security members.
“The fourth suspect went down the mine shaft, which is about a 100m underground. He was never found but the stolen emeralds were found,” said a CPF member.
They further mentioned that they attempted to locate him using search dogs but the search was in vain.
At this stage, it is unknown whether the suspect is alive, dead or has escaped, but police investigations are still in progress.
“We do not know whether he is alive or dead, because in that mine there are many tunnels and we do not know if he escaped or is trapped in there,” said a CPF member.
He also said that they could not access some of the tunnels because they have caved in and it is not safe to be down in those mines. The police have confirmed that the fourth suspect has not yet been found and they are still trying to locate him.
The PHALABORWA HERALD contacted the mine manager, Wessel Maree, and he said that at the moment he could not comment as he is allowing police investigation to unfold.
The three suspects were set to appear before the Phalaborwa Magistrate Court on Tuesday, September 25