By Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu
A 16-year-old teenager died while his friend sustained injuries when a mine shaft they were working in collapsed while they were illegally panning for gold in West Nicholson.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the incident which occurred on Thursday at about 6pm at Geelong Mine in West Nicholson.
He said the now deceased whose name was being withheld as his next of kin had not been notified died on the spot while his associate aged 22 was admitted to Gwanda Provincial Hospital where he is in a critical state.
“I can confirm that we recorded a mine accident which occurred in Geelong Mine where a 16-year-old teenager died. The now deceased and his associate aged 22 years old were working in a shaft when it collapsed and trapped them underneath. They screamed for help and a security guard who was at a neighbouring mine heard them and rushed to their rescue.
“He managed to retrieve them from the shaft but the 16-year-old teenager had already died while his associate was rushed to Gwanda Provincial Hospital where he is in a serious condition. The matter was reported to the police who attended the scene. The deceased’s body was taken to the Gwanda Provincial Hospital mortuary,” he said.
Chief Insp Ndebele urged members of the public to desist from engaging in illegal mining activities as they were putting their lives at risk.
He said all those intending to engage in mining activities had to first obtain necessary documentation and further ensure they had the appropriate safety clothing and tools.
He said 13 people were arrested at Abacon Mine on Thursday for prospecting without licenses.
“Illegal mining activities continue to be a problem in the province and we want to warn culprits as the long arm of the law will catch up with them. On Thursday we arrested 13 people who were prospecting for gold without licences and they are set to appear in court,” he said.
Meanwhile, police in Matabeleland South have appealed for assistance in locating the relatives of a man whose body has been lying at the United Bulawayo Hospitals mortuary for the past three months.
The man only identified as Khumbulani Mhlanga suspected to be from Lupane area was stabbed to death on 21 March at Claremount Mine in Fort Rixon.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is holding remains of a male adult body at United Bulawayo Hospitals Mortuary. The victim is only known as Khumbulani Mhlanga and is suspected to be from Lupane area. The now deceased had stayed at Claremount Mine, Fort Rixon for close to 13 years.
“On 21 March he was stabbed to death on the chest with a knife at Claremount Mine. He could be in his mid-30s, is approximately 1,57 metres tall and is dark in complexion. Relatives who have a family member that went missing during the corresponding period or who went away on gold panning activities are requested to contact Chief Inspector Ndebele on 08428-22810 or 0715 431 235/0773 594 899 or the investigating officer Sgt Chimbazaza on 0772503606. They can also contact any nearest police station,” Chief Insp Ndebele said. Sunday News