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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Families of trapped miners unhappy with mine’s rescue efforts

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At least two miners were confirmed dead and one seriously injured after an iron bucket used for hoisting ore fell down a shaft on to a platform where they were working at Ivanplats mine in Tshamahasi outside Mokopane in Limpopo on Monday.

A fourth mineworker was still missing underground by late yesterday after rescue teams on Tuesday said they had located the bodies of two deceased mineworkers and rescued one injured colleague.

Frantic families members of some of the mineworkers rushed to the mine yesterday, anxious to hear any news about their rescue.

Johannes Molepo, whose son-in-law was among the trapped miners, said he learnt about the incident on social media.

“I came to the mine on Tuesday after he didn’t go back home and couldn’t be reached on his cellphone. When I went inside the mine, officials told me they can’t find him and suspected that he could be still trapped and they can find the body on Thursday,” he said.

Molepo said he was really concerned that there was no further update by yesterday morning and they were locked outside the mine gate.

“When we arrived we found the gate locked and security told us no-one is allowed inside. I’m not happy with the manner the mine handled the rescue mission because it failed to apply the same method they used to rescue the other miner who was trapped with my son-in-law and take both of them to the hospital,” he said.

Sello Matlou told Sowetan that his son was also trapped underground.

“My son is one the people trapped and I’m here to find out what is happening following lack of details from the mine,” he said.

In a statement, Ivanplats, which is owned by Ivanhoe Mines, said preliminary information indicated the accident occurred as a result of a kibble bucket falling down shaft 1 and striking the northern side of the working platform, where four employees were conducting routine water-pumping activities.

The mine had suspended activities pending an investigation and will resume once the safety of the site can be assured.

The families were joined by an impromptu community task team led by EFF provincial leader Jossey Buthane to blockade the mine entrance.

After holding talks with the police and mine officials, the group was then allowed to drive inside and meet the management.

Buthane said they blockaded the entrance to force the mine to allow families inside and give them respect.

“We also demand that the mine should intensify the rescue mission and give a full report to the families,” he said.

At about 11am rescue mine vehicles and equipment believed to be from Gauteng arrived to be part of the mission.

The National Union of Mineworkers North East regional secretary Phillip Mankge said the union was highly shocked and angry about the treatment it received from IvanPlats management when denied access at the security checkpoint to form part of the preliminary investigations.

“We would like to take this opportunity to name and shame the management of IvanPlats for their conduct, especially at the time when the poor employees needed representation and support from their union. This arrogant company is not ready to comply with the Mine, Health and Safety Act as promulgated,” he said.


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