Sunday 11 December 2022


TWO illegal gold miners died while five others are feared dead after they were trapped underground when a shaft collapsed.

The accident occurred in the early hours of yesterday at Interfah Mine also known as Success Mine in Matobo District, Matabeleland South Province.

Illegal miners invaded the area after news broke that rich gold deposits had been discovered.

When The Chronicle arrived at the scene yesterday, a sombre atmosphere engulfed the area with scores of gold miners from other surrounding mines gathered at Interfah Mine as they watched an excavator digging for the bodies.

By last night, two bodies had been retrieved from the shaft as rescue teams continued with their frantic efforts to reach and rescue those still trapped in the pit.

Contrary to the rowdy and rivalry behaviour synonymous with gold panners, the exhumation of the two bodies presented a spirit of brotherhood as they volunteered to carry the bodies of their departed colleagues.

“These are
our brothers, we might not know them, but by virtue of them being gold panners it means they are our brothers,” said one panner.

The mine is reportedly owned by a syndicate of three men. 

A director of the mine Mr Philani Ncube said the trapped gold miners illegally entered the mine. The legal owners had not started operations as they were still in the registration stage.

“This is our mine and we had not commenced operations as we are in the process of registering. We got reports that there were people coming to illegally mine here after discovering gold deposits using detectors,” he said. 

“We then engaged the police from Matopo and they deployed the riot police from their Support Unit who came and dispersed them.”

“The gold panners who were trapped in the mine shaft came at night to illegally mine and unfortunately the pit collapsed on them.”

At the time of going to press, police were still conducting investigations. Police officers who attended the scene took the two bodies to a mortuary in Bulawayo.

While the number of the miners suspected to have been working inside the pit could not be confirmed, reports say five could be still trapped inside the pit.

In October, a man died and four others survived when a mine shaft collapsed at an illegal mine in New Parklands suburb in Bulawayo. Several shafts and tunnels at other mines have collapsed, trapping miners with authorities warning people against illegal mining activities during the rainy season

The district development co-ordinator for Matobo, who is also the head of the district civil protection unit, Mr Obey Chaputsira, said they had since been informed by the police about the tragedy.

Mr Chaputsira said miners should exercise caution considering that the country is in the rainy season when more mining shafts collapse.

“Due to the rains that we are receiving, the land becomes unstable hence we encourage those in the mining sector to follow precautionary measures as directed by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. There can be gold rushes and so forth, but miners have to adhere to safety measures. We can’t continue losing people due to unsafe mining procedures.”

Mr Chapuritsa extended his condolences to the families of the deceased miners.

In May, seven miners at Bucks Mine in Colleen Bawn plunged to their death after hoisting ropes to a skip bringing them up a 240-metre-deep shaft snapped 15 metres from the surface.

The skip they were in dragged the miners to the bottom of the shaft with first responders to the scene reportedly seeing splatters of blood on the walls of the shaft going down. Rescue workers spent over 72 hours trying to pump out water from the underground mine in order to retrieve the bodies of the miners who were trapped underwater.

Some of the retrieved bodies had been badly injured with skin peeling off due to prolonged exposure to water. Chronicle


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