8 il­le­gal min­ers die in mine shaft col­lapse

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Daniel Ne­mukuyu Harare Bu­reau

AT least eight il­le­gal gold min­ers were killed on Thurs­day, while oth­ers are feared dead af­ter a mine shaft col­lapsed on them at Chatyoka Mine in Con­ces­sion.

Sources said the gold seam was dis­cov­ered on Sun­day by some metal de­tec­tors and news of a gold rush fil­tered re­sult­ing in some il­le­gal min­ers troop­ing from as far as Birchenough Bridge, Man­i­ca­land.

When tragedy struck, se­cu­rity of­fi­cers at the mine man­aged to save the lives of two other min­ers who were trapped closer to the sur­face.

By 4PM yes­ter­day, eight bod­ies had been re­trieved from the mine shaft while sources said be­tween two and four more bod­ies were still un­der­ground.

Po­lice and other min­ing stake­hold­ers were still search­ing for more bod­ies us­ing earth­mov­ing ma­chin­ery.

Mrs Rose­mary Ma­rimo, the owner of Chawatama Mine, of­fered her ex­ca­va­tor to as­sist in the search for the trapped bod­ies.

The reg­is­tered owner of the claim Mr Hyde Chatyoka, con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment say­ing the il­le­gal min­ers had in­vaded his gold mine with­out his bless­ings.

“I didn’t know that there was a gold rush here un­til Tues­day when I came this side to find the min­ers jostling to get a chunk from the shaft.

“I tried to con­trol the peo­ple but failed. I was in the process of tak­ing the sam­ples from the mine to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties with a view to start ex­tract­ing gold when the peo­ple were trapped.

“I had to post se­cu­rity guards at the mine but on the fate­ful day the guards were over­pow­ered by the il­le­gal min­ers.

“They got into the shaft with­out per­mis­sion be­fore the walls col­lapsed,” said Mr Chatyoka.

A se­cu­rity guard man­ning the mine shaft Mr Fran­cis Dh­li­wayo, said he was in­volved in the res­cu­ing of the two sur­vivors of the ac­ci­dent.

“With my ex­pe­ri­ence in min­ing, I sensed dan­ger af­ter see­ing some anom­alies on the walls of the shaft.

“I tried to stop the peo­ple from en­ter­ing but they could not take my ad­vice.

“Af­ter un­suc­cess­fully try­ing to stop the il­le­gal min­ers from get­ting in­side, I heard noise and rushed to the shaft to in­ves­ti­gate.

“I no­ticed that the walls had col­lapsed and I man­aged to res­cue two other peo­ple who were trapped closer to the sur­face with the as­sis­tance of my col­league who had just ar­rived.

“The third one died while we were strug­gling to res­cue the first two,” he said.

While Mr Chatyoka de­nied any re­la­tions with the il­le­gal min­ers, sources at Chatyoka Mine Com­pound said there was a min­ing syn­di­cate in­volv­ing the mine owner.

Mr Se­bas­tian Chimwala, an un­cle to one of the de­ceased Muchiner­ipi Tembo, al­leged that the il­le­gal min­ers were work­ing to­gether with Mr Chatyoka.

“The min­ers had an agree­ment with the owner in which they would share the pro­ceeds. The own­ers of the metal de­tec­tors would get 35 per­cent, the owner 35 per­cent and the min­ers would take the re­main­ing 30 per­cent.

“The mine was op­er­at­ing with­out proper se­cu­rity, which led to the col­lapse of the shaft,” he said. Tembo will be buried to­day in Con­ces­sion. District Ad­min­is­tra­tor for Ma­zowe Mr Mark Kadaira said Mr Chatyoka could have called the po­lice to as­sist him in con­trol­ling the il­le­gal min­ers if he was not work­ing with the vic­tims.

“The min­ing was not proper. There were no safety mea­sures in place as re­quired by law al­though the owner pos­sessed the pa­pers show­ing he was al­lo­cated the claim. It ap­pears there was con­nivance but the owner and the guard de­nied it. If the il­le­gal min­ers were surely in­vaders, the owner could have sim­ply called for re­in­force­ment from the po­lice to bar the un­wanted el­e­ments,” said Mr Kadaira.

The DA said his of­fice was not even aware of the ex­is­tence of the mine un­til the day of the ac­ci­dent.

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