HOPE that the six miners trapped in a mineshaft at Matshetshe Mine in Esigodini would come out alive has dwindled after authorities yesterday told family members that it was becoming too risky to continue with the rescue operations.
Today marks the eight days since the miners were trapped in a mineshaft collapse.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said that police were working with other stakeholders to try and rescue the miners.
“We are working with various stakeholders including the Umzingwane Rural District Council, the district development co-ordinator and the Ministry of Mines to try and retrieve the trapped miners,” he said.
“So far, the Ministry of Mines has highlighted that the mine is flooded and the ground is wet. This risks the further collapse of the mine. So the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) will issue a report on the rescue, but as it stands, there are no rescue operations which have been conducted.”
The trapped mine workers have been identified as Nkosilathi Ndlovu (29), Blessed Ncube (24), Christopher Dube (23), Ndumiso Dube (age not known), Ndumiso Ntini from Lupane and one only identified as Mlilo from Gwanda.
On Monday, Matabeleland South provincial development co-ordinator, Lathiso Dlamini, who also chairs the provincial DCP, said the ground was not stable.
Yesterday, Dlamini referred Southern Eye to Umzingwane district development co-ordinator Peter Mahlatini for comments.
However, Mahlatini declined to comment referring questions to police.
One of the relatives, Edith Tshabalala, said the engineer arrived yesterday at 2:30pm, and he went to the site to assess the environment surrounding the scene of the accident, and he later addressed the community on the status of the mine.
She said when she spoke to the police, she was told that How Mine had been engaged to assist in the rescue operations.
But the How Mine officials said the area of the accident was dangerous and they could not risk losing more lives by trying to retrieve the trapped miners.
“I just wonder why they would say the mine is dangerous without even giving it a try. The elders say that mine has another entry point that they can use to reach where the trapped miners are. They could just explore that avenue. People are still down there and when those we hope for assistance seem to be retreating, we the relatives of victims are likely to die of hypertension,” Tshabalala said.
The mine is owned by Sakhile Ndlovu, who reportedly evacuated her equipment after the shaft collapsed.