MIN­ERS DIE IN SHAFT COL­LAPSES

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Nqo­bile Tshili/Whins­ley Masara Than­deka Moyo

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)

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