By Nqobile Tshili and Whinsley Masara
A man died in Gwanda when a shaft he was working in collapsed while two illegal miners in Inyathi are feared dead after being trapped in a mine shaft since Thursday last week.
Mr Brian Sithole (21) of Garikayi Area died at Berwick 3 Mine which belongs to Mr Bhekinkosi Dube (31) of Phakama Area in Gwanda.
The incident occurred at around 1PM on Sunday and fellow workers retrieved the body.
Matabeleland South Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the incident.
“I can confirm the sudden death of a miner who died when a shaft collapsed on him. Colleagues retrieved him but he was already dead,” he said.
Insp Ndebele urged members of the public to desist from mining in unsecured shafts that expose them to danger.
A source at the mine said Mr Sithole was working in the shaft which is about 30 metres deep when it collapsed. “He was with two other workers identified as Somandla Sibanda (32) and Learnmore Nyathi, both residing at Garikayi Area.
“Sithole was working on a stone wall using a chisel and a hammer while Mr Nyathi and Mr Sibanda sat next to him packing gold ore into sacks.
Suddenly the shaft collapsed covering Sithole with soil,” said the source.
The source said Mr Sibanda and Mr Nyathi informed other workers about the incident.
Mr Mpumelelo Mhlanga entered the shaft and assisted the two to retrieve the body.
At Inyathi, Mr Thompson Khabo (34) and Mr Qhawelihle Moyo (20) were last seen when a shaft they were working in collapsed following heavy rains last Thursday.
A rescue team from the Civil Protection Unit led by Bubi District Administrator Mr Tapiwa Zivovoyi and officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development were at the scene yesterday, searching for the duo.
The Chronicle observed scores of women singing songs that are normally sung at funerals, as the entire community seemed resigned to the possibility that the miners were dead.
A group of men were digging up the rubble.
The village head, Mr Petro Masuku, said: “They (Khabo and Moyo) didn’t report back to their homes and were last seen just outside this shaft on Thursday before the heavy rains. We believe they were buried alive when the shaft caved in”.
He said they have been searching for the two since last Friday to no avail.
Mr Mathonsi Khabo, Thompson uncle, said the family was convinced that his nephew died in the shaft after they found his clothes as they started digging.
“We found his shoes and the pair of trousers he was wearing. We also found a cap that his colleague was wearing,” he said. Mr Khabo said the family was still struggling to accept that Khabo may be dead.
Moyo’s uncle, Mr Edwin Munyuki, said his family was at a loss for words.
Mr Zivovoyi said it was sad that young people were dying while trying to eke out a living.
He said his office together with officials from Bubi Rural District Council have embarked on campaigns to sensitise illegal miners of the need to practise safe mining.
“It’s unfortunate this had to happen. We’ve a natural resources committee led by the RDC trying to educate people against illegal mining but they only listen when you’re around, once you go they start their activities,” Mr Zivovoyi said.
He said the economic situation was pushing people to extremes. The Chronicle