MINERS DIE IN SHAFT COLLAPSES
A MAN died in Gwanda when a shaft he was working in collapsed while two illegal miners in Inyathi are feared dead after being trapped in a mine shaft since Thursday last week.
Mr Brian Sithole (21) of Garikayi Area died at Berwick 3 Mine which belongs to Mr Bhekinkosi Dube (31) of Phakama Area in Gwanda.
The incident occurred at around 1PM on Sunday and fellow workers retrieved the body.
Matabeleland South Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the incident.
“I can confirm the sudden death of a miner who died when a shaft collapsed on him. Colleagues retrieved him but he was already dead,” he said.
Insp Ndebele urged members of the public to desist from mining in unsecured shafts that expose them to danger.
A source at the mine said Mr Sithole was working in the shaft which is about 30 metres deep when it collapsed. “He was with two other workers identified as Somandla Sibanda (32) and Learnmore Nyathi, both residing at Garikayi Area.
“Sithole was working on a stone wall using a chisel and a hammer while Mr Nyathi and Mr Sibanda sat next to him packing gold ore into sacks. Suddenly the shaft collapsed covering Sithole with soil,” said the source.
The source said Mr Sibanda and Mr Nyathi informed other workers about the incident.
Mr Mpumelelo Mhlanga entered the shaft and assisted the two to retrieve the body.
At Inyathi, Mr Thompson Khabo (34) and Mr Qhawelihle Moyo (20) were last seen when a shaft they were working in collapsed following heavy rains last Thursday. A rescue team from the Civil Protection Unit led by Bubi District Administrator Mr Tapiwa Zivovoyi and officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development were at the scene yesterday, searching for the duo.
The Chronicle observed scores of women singing songs that are normally sung at funerals, as the entire community seemed resigned to the possibility that the miners were dead. A group of men were digging up the rubble. The village head, Mr Petro Masuku, said: “They (Khabo and Moyo) didn’t report back to their homes and were last seen just outside this shaft on Thursday before the heavy rains. We believe they were buried alive when the shaft caved in”.
He said they have been searching for the two since last Friday to no avail. THE Bulawayo City Council yesterday reviewed its water shedding schedule to 72 hours per week as the amount of water in supply dams and reservoirs has gone beyond critical levels.
The local authority also warned that if residents fail to use less water under the new schedule, more stringent measures would be implemented.
At the height of water shedding in 2013, Bulawayo residents went without water for up to four days in a week.
Last week the city embarked on a 48-hour weekly water shedding regime which it failed to adhere to leaving residents stranded, with some suburbs now having gone for seven days without water.
Apologising for the non-adherence to the water shedding schedule, council Senior Public Relations Officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said water levels in reservoirs supplying some suburbs had gone below critical levels, rendering them unable to pump water.
“This was necessitated by the need to increase the levels for Magwegwe Reservoir which supplies most of the Western areas and Tuli Reservoir (supplying most of the eastern areas) which had gone below their critical levels,” said Mrs Mpofu.
“The two reservoirs had gone drastically low and as a result this affected the water pressure in suburbs that had been reconnected with water supplies especially those in high lying areas.”
She said reviewing the hours would help save the little water left for the city.
“Bulawayo City Council wishes to advise residents that there has been a slight change in the water shedding schedule from 48hrs to 72hrs a week,” Mrs Mpofu said.
“This is to try and conserve water and be able to manage the limited resources and declining dam levels.
“Although all attempts will be made to stick to the schedule, it is subject to change without notice in cases of emergency and operational challenges. Residents are encouraged to ensure that taps are tightly closed at all times.”
Mrs Mpofu said dam levels continued to drop at a faster rate due to the heat.
“We tried following the water schedule but due to operational challenges we failed,” she said.
According to council, power cuts by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company continue to hamper the continuous pumping from the supply dams and bursts along the major conveyance lines.
“There are major frequent breakdowns on the Mtshabezi pipeline for instance. There has been no pumping for almost a week since the shedding time. This supposed to add to the water supply since Umzingwane Dam has been decommissioned,” said Mrs Mpofu.
“The water supply from Nyamandlovu is still very low at an average of 2.5ML per day giving the city more stress to the current supplies.
“The above issues have hampered the water distribution in the city by depleting almost all the water in the service reservoirs. The proposed programme will try and enhance building up pressure within the city and normalise the situation”.
Council also warned residents against storing water in drums.
“We therefore wish to appeal to all consumers to conserve and use water sparingly so as to avoid a water shortage,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Bulawayo is facing its worst water crisis in five years. Its six supply dams, Insiza, Mtshabezi, Inyankuni, Umzingwane, Lower and Upper Ncema are at about 30 percent of their collective capacity.
Already, Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams have been decommissioned and more may follow if there is no substantial rain in their catchment areas in Matabeleland South.
The city faces a water crisis at the end of almost every year and has been under water rationing since 1984.
The permanent solution to water shortages in Bulawayo and Matabeleland is said to be the National Zambezi Water Project that was first mooted in 1912. — @thamamoe
Mr Mathonsi Khabo, Thompson uncle, said the family was convinced that his nephew died in the shaft after they found his clothes as they started digging.
“We found his shoes and the pair of trousers he was wearing. We also found a cap that his colleague was wearing,” he said. Mr Khabo said the family was still struggling to accept that Khabo may be dead.
Moyo’s uncle, Mr Edwin Munyuki, said his family was at a loss for words.
Mr Zivovoyi said it was sad that young people were dying while trying to eke out a living.
He said his office together with officials from Bubi Rural District Council have embarked on campaigns to sensitise illegal miners of the need to practise safe mining.
“It’s unfortunate this had to happen. We’ve a natural resources committee led by the RDC trying to educate people against illegal mining but they only listen when you’re around, once you go they start their activities,” Mr Zivovoyi said.
He said the economic situation was pushing people to extremes. — @winnie_masara @nqotshili
Villagers conduct a search and rescue operation for the trapped miners in Inyathi yesterday. (Picture by Fortunate Muzarabani)