MIDDELBURG - Rescue operations at the Gloria Coal Mine have ground to a halt over the non-payment of workers, leaving more than 20 people underground.
Six people have been confirmed dead and their bodies retrieved. They are suspected to have been copper cable thieves.
At least 22 people remain trapped.
A business rescue representative for the mine, Mike Elliot, said, "The other 22 we can only reach with the proto-sets oxygen capabilities after we've restored power to the mine and after we've fixed up the main fans where the copper thieves cut up the transformers and cut the air supply to the mine.
"It's going to take about four days to repair all the stuff that they have destroyed."
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Workers employed by the mine haven't been paid for four months and they're refusing to continue the rescue until they are paid.
Elliot said workers at the mine have not been paid yet as the business rescue operations have not been completed.
"The mines need to be sold in order for money to come in that is required to pay the workers since the end of October," Elliot explained.
The money required to rescue the people from the mine has already been spent, according to Elliot.
Deliberations with the workers continue but the possibility of rescue operations resuming on Monday seems slim.