Zama zama’s bodies retrieved

BARBERTON – Musa Mnguni, Johann Magagula, Mduduzi Kunene and Siza Mavela Simelane were killed by a landfall in a defunct area of the mine at around 22:00 on Tuesday.

Mandla Mamba, former Ward 45 councillor, and his successor, Lifa Nkosi, supported the community physically and emotionally. Female family members also went underground to perform rituals for the deceased’s spirits.

Mnguni and Magagula are South Africans, and Kunene and Simelane are from Swaziland.
It took about 18 hours to bring the bodies to the surface. Another hour or so was spent transporting the bodies to the main road where family members and friends could identify their loved ones. SAPS, pathologists, Galaxy Mine management and mine security also waited at the main road.

There were emotional moments while the bodies were brought to the surface. Community members blamed some authorities for not assisting.

“Yes, we understand that it is illegal, but when it comes to saving lives the government must intervene,” one told the newspaper. According to some of the illegal miners who survived, one of the victims could have been saved had he received medical attention in time.

Galaxy general manager, Dale Richards, said when they heard about the accident, they immediately dispatched mine engineers to investigate. The initial report was that up to 200 had been trapped.

Their engineers, however, deemed the entrance and access tunnel unsafe to enter. The community members, however, insisted, and went down in their numbers.
Once the rockfall was confirmed, the Department of Mineral Resources activated Mine Rescue Services to assist. It was about midnight on Wednesday, and too dangerous to access the area, Richards said. “That part is up in a mountain, you can’t access it in the dark.”

Read: Police sting misses illegal miners

They arrived at 05:30 on Thursday and investigated the scene, as two more men had been reported missing. By around 07:00 they had been found safe and sound by the community.
Galaxy Gold CEO, Dwaine Koch, confirmed that the mine was currently under care and maintenance.

The company Gold employs regular security as well as TSU Security, a specialised unit. Their presence on site has greatly reduced the number of illegal miners accessing Galaxy shafts over the past year, Richards said.

Read Also: Illegal miners arrested at New Consort

“We still have a problem. I guess they do it out of poverty.”

One other zama zama has died as a result of rockfaal in the past year, Richards said.

Yet, security cannot cover all areas at all times and they break through the blockages Galaxy installs at the entrances to tunnels it does not use.


Tom Zwane and Mireille de Villiers

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