A MAN employed by National Foods in Bulawayo died on Monday morning after his colleagues opened a valve of a wagon carrying maize while he was still inside resulting in him being choked to death by the grain.
Bulawayo acting provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu confirmed the death of Domingo Ndlovu (24) yesterday.
“Yes, I confirm that we received a report of a sudden death incident which happened at the National Foods yesterday (Monday),” he said.
“What happened is that one of the employees was inside the wagon filled with maize when his workmates opened the valve of the wagon resulting in the now-deceased getting covered by maize leading to his sudden death.
However, Ndlovu’s family yesterday accused National Foods of initially trying to cover up the circumstances that led to their son’s death.
“Domingo was killed while offloading maize from a wagon at around 5am,” said his brother Zebediah Ndlovu.
“He was working with three people. He mounted the wagon to open the top lead (and) while at the top, one of his colleagues opened the wagon’s valve using a metal object and due to gravity he went down with the maize.”
Zebediah said on realising that Domingo was still inside the wagon, another colleague tried to close the valve, but it was too late.
“Because of the gravity, by the time they tried to close the valve, his legs had already come out of the valve onto a conveyor,” he said.
“At that point they started screaming for help and it took about four minutes to retrieve his body by cutting the wagon with a grinder.
“When we got there, they lied to us that Domingo was sleeping inside the wagon.
“They even lied to the initial investigating officers. We had to seek assistance from the officer-in-charge of Mzilikazi Police Station who sent other officers and we were shown the footage.”
The family said it was now banking on the Criminal Investigations Department’s Homicide Section to conduct investigations and determine the true circumstances behind Domingo’s death.
The family said it suspected foul play in the matter because in the footage, one of Domingo’s colleagues is seen throwing his hands into the air as if they were involved in an argument.