Jean-Jacques Cornish

Army called in to recover a boy who fell down a disused mineshaft east of Johannesburg

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The army’s been drafted in to help rescue a five-year-old boy who fell into a disused gold mine east of Johannesburg.

Angry local residents have been stoning passing vehicles saying the authorities ignored their pleas to properly seal the shaft.

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Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina has asked the army to send its experts to help retrieve five- year-old Richard Thole who fell into the disused mine at Boksburg last Saturday.

The boy’s  mother Nombeko Thole says she started the search when her son, who was playing the area, did not return home.

Chief Executive Officer  of Mine Rescue Services Christo de Klerk says it is not possible to continue civilian rescue operations without endangering the life of personnel

Rescuers have experience rockfalls and underground earth movement.

Mayor Masina says all hope is not lost.

However the Disaster and Emergency Management services and the Mine Rescue Services have done everything they can in the rescue operations but cannot go any further.

Residents in what is known as the Jerusalem community are furious that local authorities have not sealed the disused mine.

Illegal miners, known as Zama Zamas, who operate on disused mines throughout the Witwatersrand gold fields are being blamed for opening the shaft that little Richard fell down.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.