A Brown Wooden Coffin.
A Brown Wooden Coffin. Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels.com

The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Sunday started an investigation into the deaths of four members of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF), who were on a 24-hour shift at Shaft 3. They probably died due to poisoning by carbon monoxide.

Shaft 3 is an unused mining shaft in Orkney, North West near the abandoned Harry Oppenheimer stadium known for illegal mining activities, as per SANDF.

The deceased soldiers were found inside a container that served as a guard post during their shift on morning of July 6, when the next shift arrived. Police were called and upon inspection, all four were found dead - still in possession of their rifles and personal belongings.

The district surgeon was called to the scene who examined the bodies and confirmed no injuries.

"A team from the Pretoria FSL Chemistry Unit, also attended the scene and preliminary findings are that the deaths 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," SANDF said, SA News reported.

It added, "The names of the deceased will be announced once the families have been informed and all processes and formalities have been completed followed by the announcement of the funeral arrangements."

The bodies of the deceased were taken to the Klerksdorp State Mortuary for further investigation and post-mortem examinations.

Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Angie Motshekga and Deputy Minister Bantu Holomisa expressed their condolences to the families of the deceased and the entire defense community.

This tragic incident took place two months after Minister of Police General Bheki Cele said that the SAPS is unapologetic in fighting against crime in the country and lauded the success of Operation Shanela which was launched in May last year to deal with crime in high-density areas.

President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year said that the South African government has strengthened the security measures to fight against crime by recruiting 20,000 police officers over the last two years in the SAPS.

The president also announced that the SAPS will get an additional 10,000 officers by the end of this year, noting that South Africans deserve to feel and be safe while walking in their neighborhoods and public spaces.