By Thupeyo Muleya
Three Zimbabweans died after inhaling toxic gasses while working in a disused mine shaft at Langlaagte Gold Mine in South Africa and an undisclosed number are feared to have also succumbed to the toxic gasses.
Sources in South Africa yesterday said the deceased were part of 16 Zimbabweans who entered the mine to pan for gold last week.
It is understood that while under the mine there was a sudden explosion of carbon gases, which killed three people while eight others managed to escape on the same day.
Four more people including one body were retrieved between yesterday and Monday morning by the Department of Mineral Resources’ Mine Rescue Service team.
By the end of the day yesterday rescue workers including relatives of those feared dead, were still busy searching for the missing people.
Mr Dorah Tsikwa said he lost his elder brother during the incident and that the search for his body was still in progress.
“My brother, Sibangani, was among the 16 people who entered the mine when the incident occurred. We heard from those who managed to come out alive that he had died and we are very worried,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, expressed his condolences to the grieving families and commended Fair Funeral Parlour among other stakeholders who had played a role in assisting the affected miners.
“On behalf of the Zimbabwean Government, we would want to thank everyone who had a hand in assisting our fellow countrymen. Our hearts are heavy with such a loss.
A source close to investigations said in most cases the panners paid R40 as entry fees and R900 to a cartel running the illegal mine.
Langlaagte Gold Mine is one of the oldest areas with gold deposits discovered in 1886, resulting in the establishment of Johannesburg, often referred to as Egoli, “The City of Gold”, in local parlance.
Last year 13 Zimbabweans died in the same way at a mine in Benon area, which is located some 35km out of Langlaagte Mine, while in 2014 another 21 (Zimbabweans) were killed in a disused mine around the Roadport area, which is located 15km west of same mine.
It is believed that the three mines lie in the same gold reef and have over 6000 entry points. The Herald