ONE person died while three others were injured when an underground shaft at Turk Mine near Inyathi collapsed, trapping the four during the early hours of yesterday morning.
Southern Eye visited the mine and found employees waiting around the complex for information about the deceased (name withheld), who apparently was still trapped in the shaft by mid-morning.
The surviving three had been rescued and ferried to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
The grandfather of the deceased, Misheck Moyo, said he was waiting to get confirmation of his grandson’s death since the mine management had initially told him to go home and wait for communication, but had then called him to return to the mine.
“I hear they were four and his three colleagues managed to escape with injuries when a shaft stone wall gave way, but he was unfortunately crushed,” he said.
“However, his body has not yet been retrieved and though we are getting bleak messages from his workmates, the only thing to do is hope for the best.”
Details gathered from mine workers were that the deceased and the other three were transporting ore from a level 14 shaft — approximately 300m deep — when a wall boulder gave way directly crushing him.
“I don’t think he will make it out because the people who were with him say the boulder broke him to pieces and sandwiched his body to the wall such that only his head was visible,” an employee, who only identified himself as Charles, said.
He explained that the situation was critical such that rumours suggested rescue efforts would have to blast through the rock surface and free Ngwenya’s body.
Another worker, Tatenda Mbesa said the shaft had always been suspicious and that was the reason why mine management was restricting information about the accident.
“Even the names of injured have been withheld from us and it is very difficult to know who was involved because there are more than 1 000 people who work here at different level sites, so I can’t tell you more than this,” he added.
At around midday, the body of the deceased miner was said to have been retrieved, while procedures to hand it over to the police where in progress.
Efforts to get information from the human resources manager, Esnath Zhou, were fruitless, as she referred all questions to the head office in Bulawayo.
“You have come at the wrong time and I have given you enough time as it is,” she said.
“I have to attend to other matters because protocol does not allow me to talk to the media so please call head office.”
Despite Zhou’s reference, the head office directed all questions back to the mine site, indicating that was where the public relations office was located.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Siphiwe Makonese was said to be on leave, while her deputy was not on duty.
However, the police said they were yet to receive reports of the accident.