Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
POLICE have released the names of the seven men who died at Bucks Mine in Colleen Bawn following a mine accident at the weekend.
The miners plunged to their death after hoisting ropes to a skip bringing them up a 240-meter-deep shaft snapped 15 metres from the surface.
Sources said the skip they were in dragged the miners to the bottom of the shaft with first responders to the scene reportedly seeing splatters of blood on the walls of the shaft going down.
Rescue workers spent over 72 hours trying to pump out water from the underground mine in order to retrieve the bodies of the miners who were trapped underwater.
Some of the retrieved bodies had been badly injured with skin peeling off due to prolonged exposure to water.
In a statement, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the mine accident victims had been identified by their next of kin.
“The names of the seven victims were positively identified by their next of kin as listed: Ezweni Masuku who was the mine manager, Chrispen Ndlovu (32) from Hwange, Wisdom Munsaka (28) from Binga, Desire Ncube (25) from Hwange, Panganai Chimuka (23), Chester Mbangeni (59) and Abie Mudimba,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He urged mine owners to religiously follow safety, health and environmental regulations at mine sites to ensure the safety of workers.
Speaking at the scene of the accident on Tuesday, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura urged miners to adhere to safety standards to avoid similar accidents in future.
He extended his condolences to the families and co-workers of the deceased.
“We’re so saddened as Government and want to urge the communities around to adhere to all safety standards to make sure that such accidents don’t happen in future. Currently, the department of the chief Government mining engineer is going around doing safety awareness campaigns together with the Ministry of Environment to make sure that miners adhere to safety standards and a safe working environment,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
Vumbachikwe Mine rescue team captain Mr Cleopas Karima said the rescue mission had been a difficult one.
“We started pumping water on Sunday around 10PM because the mine had problems with broken pipes so we started by equipping the pipes and the pump. We continued pumping until Monday around 10PM, that’s when we started to see the first body floating on top of water. We continued pumping until today (Tuesday) around 5AM, that’s when we saw six bodies,” said Mr Karima.
He said the team started cleaning the shaft and installing some working platforms to enable them to retrieve the bodies. – @Yolisswa