BY SILAS NKALA
SIX mine workers are reportedly still trapped in a mine shaft which collapsed last Tuesday at Matshetshe Mine in Esigodini.
Indications are that no efforts have been made so far to rescue them or to retrieve their bodies.
The Esigodini District Civil Protection Unit (CPU), said it was waiting for the provincial and national CPUs to assist them with equipment to execute the rescue operation.
The mine is reportedly owned by Sakhile Ndlovu, who evacuated her equipment after the shaft collapsed, but failed to rescue the mine workers.
Relatives and community members fear that with the passage of time, the trapped mine workers will end up dying of suffocation or hunger.
“We are at Irisvale in Mbalabala, we have sons who were working at Matshetshe Mine, and the mine shaft collapsed on Tuesday. What worries us now is that up to today (yesterday) nothing has been done. They tell us that they are waiting for the province, then later they say they are waiting for Harare, but there is nothing being done to save them,” one of the concerned relatives, Edith Tshabalala said.
“We were hoping that if the rescue is done on time they might be saved, but due to these delays we are now losing hope that they will come out of this alive,” she said.
The trapped mine workers have been identified as Nkosilathi Ndlovu (29), Blessed Ncube (24), Christopher Dube (23), Ndumiso Dube (age not known), Ndumiso Ntini from Lupane and one only identified as Mlilo from Gwanda.
“What happened is that these boys were trapped last Tuesday and the mine owner removed her equipment from the mine during the night, instead of raising alarm that there are people trapped in the shaft so that they can be rescued. She did not bother to inform the relatives of the workers and they only heard about the accident through rumours,” Tshabalala said.
Contacted for comment, the mine owner, Ndlovu said she was not at liberty to comment because she had not yet been given permission to do so.
“I hear your question, but for now I am not able to comment because I have not been given authority to do so,” she said.
Umzingwane district development co-ordinator Peter Mahlatini also declined to comment.
He, however, admitted that he received a report about the mine accident from the police. He said only police could comment on the matter since he received the report from them.
“Let me refer you to the provincial police. They are the ones who can comment on that issue because we received the report from them,” Mahlatini said.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele was not reachable on his mobile phone for comment. National Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was attending a virtual traffic meeting.