Friday 4 August 2023


SIX miners died while eight others survived a sudden gush of water that inundated a tunnel they were working in at Lilian Mine in Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province.

The news of the devastating accident shook the region, with five of the deceased hailing from Nkayi District and one from Kusile District. The mine, owned by Mr Siqeduthando Ncube, now stands as a tragic reminder of the perils miners face underground.

Engineer Michael Munodawafa, the chief mining engineer from the Ministry of Mining and Mining Development said the accident took place around midnight on Wednesday due to a sudden underground water burst.

“The accident happened on Wednesday around midnight due to an underground water burst. There were 14 people in two working areas when seven on each side and in one of the working areas two people were killed when the water burst because it moved with the ore they were trying to work on and it went on to affect the other side.

“The water was in a confined area but broke the wall separating the old mining area and the new one. It pushed the ore and the workers to the tunnel. On the other area, it trapped the miners with four dying while three escaped. We managed to retrieve all the bodies by 5pm on Thursday afternoon,” he said.

Engineer Munodawafa said the tragedy could have been avoided if the miners had been aware of the older mine they were working toward. Such a painful loss could have been prevented with the right knowledge and precautions.

As Chronicle visited the mine, mourners were gathered at Mr Ncube’s homestead. Meanwhile, the mine continued to operate, with Mr Ncube silently monitoring the proceedings, surrounded by supportive neighbours.

“I was advised not to talk to the media about what happened here. I am sorry,” said Mr Ncube when asked for a comment.

Though attempts to obtain comments from Mr Ncube and the survivors were in vain, a person at the homestead shared the shock and sorrow gripping the community.

“We lost good guys in this incident, they were very hardworking. What they usually did was they will enter the mine to dig for the ore and come out to cook and eat. After that they will enter in the evening to collect the ore so the incident happened after they had returned to work. All the relatives have been advised and most of them came and are busy preparing burial orders. Most of them understood it was an incident due to the water. Bodies are at Inyathi District Hospital mortuary,”  he said.

At the accident scene there was a yellow compressor which appeared to have been used to pump out water and some pipes and pools of water.

The police confirmed the tragic incident on their Twitter account.

“ZRP confirms a sad incident where six people have died at Lilian Mine, Inyathi; Matabeleland North Province on 03/08/23. 14 miners who were extracting gold ore were trapped when drillers hit the underground water which then flooded the mine tunnels. Eight miners managed to escape. The victims’ bodies have since been retrieved,” said the police.

Matabeleland North Provincial Spokesperson, Inspector Glory Banda named five of the deceased as Matthew Sibanda (30) of Sesamba Village in Nkayi, Bhekani Tshuma (25) from Sibombo in Lupane, Bruce Clive Tshuma (21) of Matsholozane Village in Nkayi, Mengezi Mpofu (23), Mutshethe Village, Nkayi and Ndabezinhle Bhebhe (27) of Sesemba, Nkayi. Chronicle


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