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Hope of finding remains of miners trapped in Chegutu fades

By Conrad Mupesa

The families of the four miners who were trapped after a shaft collapsed at Task Mining Syndicate in Chegutu last September have finally lost hope of having their loved ones’ bodies being retrieved.

File picture from September 2020. One of the rescuers is lowered into the shaft.
File picture from September 2020. One of the rescuers is lowered into the shaft.

Efforts to retrieve the bodies were stopped by the District Civil Protection Unit (CPU) in November last year.

The families of Constantino Dzinoreva (47), Crynos Nyamukanga (44), Munashe Nyamukanga (16) and Charles Mutume (31) that had been camped at the mine since the collapse of the shaft, have now left the site.

Artisanal miners who led the retrieval process before it was stopped managed to retrieve the body of Shingai Gwatidzo (20), which was in an advanced state of decomposition.

The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) supported the funeral of Gwatidzo by providing a coffin and other items.

The artisanal miners who continued to conduct retrieval efforts despite Government’s directive also stopped their operations after the families failed to raise the US$1 000 that they were demanding from the four families for the retrieval of each of the four bodies.

Chief Government mining engineer, Mr Michael Munodawafa told The Herald that the ground was unstable, posing a danger to the rescuers, but the Ministry of Mines approved the continuation of the search under strict adherence to safety rules before the CPU decided to halt the operations for a second time.

Task Mining Syndicate chairperson, Mr Timothy Masviba said when the CPU stopped operations in November the families remained at the mine site hoping for a change.

“We were directed to halt operations although the rescuers had made a breakthrough. As an organisation, we complied but families of the trapped workers remained put hoping that the Government would reverse the directive. The families have now returned to their homes,” Mr Masviba said.

Constantino Dzinoreva’s brother, Calisto said: “We have since lost hope of finding our relative’s remains.

“Since the first body was retrieved, no effort was done to retrieve the remaining four bodies, including that of my brother. We deserve to bury our loved ones back home and, not at that shaft, but the rescuers continued to demand more money from us.”

Other relatives said they had decided to go back home as the rains were going to make search efforts difficult should the teams choose to continue.

“I am currently at my rural home ploughing and planting. We noticed that although we were concerned about the remains of our loved ones, hope was fading by each day,” said Rodgers Nyamukanga, Crynos’ brother and Munashe’s uncle.

The relatives had stayed put after traditional healers they engaged in October to conduct an appeasement ceremony told them that miners would be found within a week, but the efforts yielded no results, forcing them to give up hope of finding their loved ones’ remains.

Efforts to retrieve the bodies were also hampered by shortage of manpower, leading to the search teams doing a single six-hour shift a day. The Herald.