By SILAS NKALA/OBERT SIAMILANDU
TWO young illegal miners and a university graduate were on Monday reportedly trapped to death by coal ashes while extracting coke at a dumpsite in Hwange.
The issue was confirmed by a resident of DRC Empumalanga township, Joseph Manyemba, who told Southern Eye that the incident happened at the M Block of the disused mine, which is usually thronged by unemployed youth trying to eke out a living extracting coal and selling it on the black market.
Greater Hwange Residents Trust co-ordinator Fidelis Chima yesterday said such mine accidents happened because unemployed youths in Hwange were resorting to mining coal for sale, thus putting their lives in danger.
“It’s so sad that two people, who are also graduates from local universities, got trapped,” he said.
“The reason why there is an increase in the number of people who are actually trying to eke out a living by extracting coal is simply because they are not seeing value in working for these Chinese companies because they don’t pay, they work for very long hours in toxic conditions,” he said.
Chima said Hwange residents were worried about the huge number of young people engaging in illegal coke extraction.
Manyemba added: “Usually, the unemployed youth go to the disused mineshaft to extract coal that they sell on the black market for survival. There were three guys. Two died and one survived because he remained outside on guard while the two entered the shaft.”
Manyemba, who is also one of the victims’ neighbours, said the survivor sought help from other miners who retrieved his colleagues’ bodies.
Recently, a female gold panner from Guyu in Matabeleland South province died on the spot while her colleague escaped unharmed when a shaft they were working in collapsed.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda was not picking calls, while efforts to get a comment from the deceased’s relatives and the survivor were fruitless.