By Richard Muponde
Two suspected illegal gold miners in Gwanda were yesterday morning crushed to death while three others were injured after a mine shaft they were allegedly stealing gold ore from, collapsed.
Two of the injured are battling for life at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) while one was treated at Gwanda Provincial Hospital and discharged.
The incident happened at around 3AM at Geelong 2 Mine in West Nicholson when the illegal panners were digging for gold ore at level 10 of the shaft which is about 210 metres underground.
According to a source close to the matter, one of the employees at the mine, who is among the deceased, invited his colleagues to illegally mine for gold in his employer’s shaft.
“One of them was an employee at the mine. He invited four of his friends who are illegal miners in the area without the owner’s permission. When they started digging, boulders fell from above and crushed two of them to death,” said a source, who declined to be named.
The source said mine workers dug up the three who were injured but could not retrieve the bodies from under the rubble.
“The names of the deceased have not been released as their next of kin are yet to be advised,” said the source.
The injured, named by our source as Brian Moyo, Prince Garamukanwa and Admire Nkolomi, were rushed to Gwanda Provincial Hospital.
“Moyo was treated and discharged. Garamukanwa and Nkolomi were referred to United Bulawayo Hospitals where they are reportedly battling for life,” said the source.
“Police retrieved the two bodies yesterday around 5AM and conveyed them to Gwanda Provincial Hospital mortuary.”
National police spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was yet to get the facts about what happened and referred questions to Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Philisani Ndebele who was unreachable on his mobile phone.
“I’m not in office. We’re still to get the facts. Talk to Inspector Ndebele he will give you the facts,” said Chief Sup Nyathi.
Yesterday, the shaft which collapsed was cordoned off, but operations continued as usual in others.
Mr Maxwell Chabaya who works at the mine said: “It was painful to see the crushed bodies. They died a painful death.”
Another worker, Mr Status Muchakata said the five are suspected to have gone underground to steal gold ore.
“They allegedly had not sought permission from the mine owners. Four of them don’t work here,” said Mr Muchakata.
This is not the first time that people have died at the mine.
In 2015 three gold panners were crushed to death by a boulder while the fourth one was seriously injured during an ill-fated search for gold in a 400 metre deep mineshaft.
Three of the victims were brothers, two who died, Bonnet Phiri (39) and Milton (35) and the only survivor Willard, (41) who suffered neck, chest and leg injuries and was admitted to Gwanda Provincial Hospital following the tragedy.
The brothers’ colleague Kenvas Muyambo (30) was the third fatality.
All the four illegal gold miners hailed from Mavago area, Filabusi under Chief Maduna. The Chronicle