BY Kudzai Chikiwa
An illegal gold panner died after a shaft collapsed on him at the Municipal Gravel site located along Cecil Road in Bulawayo on Friday, police confirmed.
“I can confirm that a man was found dead after the pit they were mining from is suspected to have collapsed and his five friends fled the scene,” said Bulawayo Deputy Police Spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube.
Sources at the scene identified the man as Simbarashe Munetsi (24).
His body has since been taken to United Bulawayo Hospitals for postmortem.
Insp Ncube urged members of the public to desist from using disused mines as it has led to the deaths of many gold panners.
“Such cases are common especially during the rainy season when the soil becomes loose and shafts can easily collapse. Members of the public should desist from illegal gold panning because it often results in unnecessary loss of life,” he said.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the scene the police and the fire brigade were recovering the body which was covered by sand in a shaft.
There was a shovel near the body, a cellphone was lying beside it and there were three sacks of stones which are suspected to have gold ore.
Sources at the scene said Munetsi’s colleagues panicked when the shaft collapsed and rushed to alert the city council police around 4am.
“The gang fled towards the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) when council officials went to the scene, probably they knew their colleague was already dead,” said the source.
Bulawayo City Council Senior Public Relations Officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu confirmed the death in a statement.
“The City of Bulawayo confirms the retrieval of a male body at the Municipal Gravel site located along Cecil Road. Further details can be obtained from the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” she said.
In March this year an illegal gold miner died at the same site after the pits he was mining from collapsed. The Chronicle