Matobo mine collapses kill 5, others still trapped.
Volunteer workers retrieved the bodies yesterday together with four injured miners. One miner was rescued unharmed while rescue efforts continued into the night to find the rest of the illegal miners. A majority of the Amakorokoza allegedly fled when the tunnel collapsed on their colleagues.
Five illegal miners died when a tunnel at Nugget Gold Mine in Matobo, Matabeleland South province collapsed while about 15 Amakorokoza were underground. The incident happened on Monday when more than 1 000 illegal miners swarmed the area after news broke that rich gold deposits had been discovered at the mine.
A villager Mr Meluleki Mbano said rival groups were fighting fiercely over the mine and a stampede could have triggered the collapse of the tunnel. Other villagers said the tunnel may have caved in after some illegal miners detonated explosives to clear rocks.
“There were four groups of miners. Some were from Kwekwe, Shurugwi, Gokwe and some locals. We gathered that some of Amakorokoza told their friends through WhatsApp groups they had struck it rich. The friends told other friends and a gold rush started.
“There were more than 1 000 illegal miners here. We heard that about 15 illegal miners rushed underground. During that mad dash the mine collapsed on them killing five people and five have come out alive,” Mr Mbano said.
He said he called police and army officers stationed in the district who quickly arrived at the scene.Another villager who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “A fight between a group of illegal miners led by Esigodini gold baron Baron Dube and Ndodana Moyo who owns Dandy Five Mine broke out. The two ring leaders were injured and are in hospital receiving treatment.”
Addressing Government officials that included the Minister of State for Matabeleland South, Cde Abednico Ncube, Provincial Administrator for Matabeleland South Ms Sithandiwe Ncube, senior police and army officers, Provincial Mining Director Mr Tichaona Makuza said a gold rush caused the tragedy.
“We gathered that one of the miners informed his colleagues that they had discovered gold. After that about 15 illegal miners rushed underground.
“During that stampede a balancing pillar where there was a gold belt is suspected to have fallen on them killing five people. Five people were retrieved alive, among those, four were injured and rushed to hospital while one came out unharmed,” he said. Mr Makuza said the mine was closed last year in September and they are working on licensing the approved applicant.
“We are waiting for the licence to be approved by our superiors. I believe that will help in reducing illegal mining because the mine will be operating legally,” he said. Minister Ncube conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and urged police to reinforce security at the illegal mine.
“As Government we are saddened by this unfortunate incident. I’m appealing to police to ramp up security in the area to stop illegal mining because failure to that, more lives could be lost in these illegal mining activities,” said the Minister.
Zanu-PF Youth League chairman for Matabeleland South province Cde Washington Nkomo laid the blame on the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. “The Ministry of Mines sits on applications. A lot of people from this area expressed formal interests in this mine three years ago but until now not even one of them has received a reply. Now people are desperate for jobs and that has resulted in this unfortunate incident,” he said.
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