GOVERNMENT has been rapped for its failure to retrieve six bodies of miners trapped in a shaft at Matshetshe Mine in Esigodini since November 10.
BY SILAS NKALA
Today marks day 17 after the miners got trapped and government has given up on efforts to retrieve them citing flooding.
Last week government declared that it was not possible to retrieve the bodies of the trapped miners because further attemps could result in more deaths.
The trapped mine workers were identified as Nkosilathi Ndlovu (29), Blessed Ncube (24), Christopher Dube (23) and Ndumiso Dube who are all from the same family, Ndumiso Ntini from Lupane and one only identified as Mlilo from Gwanda.
A human rights activist, Effie Ncube yesterday said the failure by government to rescue them exposed its inability to protect citizens from disasters.
“The failure to rescue miners at Esigodini mine shows that government is completely unable to protect citizens from hazards such as earthquakes, floods and other things,” Ncube said.
“We have a government that cannot protect people from hunger, from poverty and from diseases.
“It is a government that is able to oppress but not to liberate, to injure but not to treat and to suppress people but not to prosper them.”
Mthwakazi Democratic Alliance (MDA) national spokesperson Mandlenkosi Nkomo said his party was concerned with the attitude of government towards the trapped miners.
“We understand that the government has aborted the rescue mission which was highly irresponsible. It is our united view that, this matter must be declared a national disaster,” Nkomo said.
“We urge the government to urgently reconsider rescue efforts, as the process may in some instances save lives or bring closure to the affected families in worst circumstances.”
He said government was responsible for the poverty that prompted the miners to go underground in search of gold.
“These miners were trapped in search of money to sustain their lives and that of their families.
“A lot of families in Mthwakazi end up resorting to risky mining due to lack of employment opportunities and a conducive environment to start their own businesses,” Nkomo said.
He said his party would assist the affected families.
Families of the trapped miners have since given up hope of seeing their relatives’ bodies after government retreated from search operations.
One of the trapped miners’ relatives, Edith Tshabalala said government officials last week met the families of the trapped miners and Esigodini community where they declared they were no longer able to help after an engineer said the mine was flooded.
The mine is owned by Sakhile Ndlovu, who reportedly evacuated her equipment after the shaft collapsed and is now said to have disowned the miners saying they were not her employees.