PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been dragged to court by one of the families of the trapped miners in Esigodini, Matabeleland South which is demanding that the mine collapse be declared a disaster to allow for rescue efforts.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Six artisanal miners Nkosilathi Ndlovu (29), Christopher Dube (23), Ndumiso Dube (19), Blessed Ncube (24), Nduduzo Ntini (28) and another only identified as Mlilo have been trapped underground since November 10 when flash floods triggered the collapse of their mine shaft.
Government, has however, abandoned rescue efforts saying the mission was too risky following advice given by chief government mining engineer Michael Munodawafa, dashing hopes of any rescue efforts.
Munodawafa also noted that it would take over a year of continuous work before any success was achieved as the area “is characterised by friable ground, loose rock material and debris posing the danger for further collapse.”
In an urgent chamber application filed at the Bulawayo High Court on Monday, Patience Ncube, mother to one of the trapped miners Nkosilathi, appealed for an order directing Mnangagwa and government agencies to implement an emergency rescue operation.
“That the 5th respondent declares Matshetshe Mine collapse a disaster within the meaning of section 27 of the Civil Protection Unit Act.
“That the provincial civil protection officer Matabeleland South province must within 48 hours of this order direct the 4th respondent within his area to prepare an emergency plan for the rescue/evacuation of the trapped miners or their bodies,” the application filed on behalf of the family by its lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, read in part.
Mine owner Sakhile Ndlovu, Umzingwane Rural District Council, Provincial Co-ordinator for Matabeleland South province, Local Government ministry (Civil Protection Unit), Mines and Mining Development ministry and Mnangagwa are cited as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respondents, respectively.
“That such emergency plan, referred to in 1, be compiled and submitted to the provincial civil protection officer, Matabeleland South within 24 hours of his direction.
“Implementation of the emergency plan must begin, subject to the availability of resources, within 48 hours of such submission to the provincial civil protection officer, Matabeleland South.”
According to the family, the miners or their bodies have to be retrieved to enable them to find closure.
“One of the mothers of my sons’ fellow co-workers has actually developed a psychological illness and is currently admitted at Ingutsheni mental hospital as a result of this accident.
“It is, therefore, important for us as families to find closure in this issue and possibly be allowed to do traditional family rites,” the application read.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development recently visited the mine on a fact-finding mission to establish what transpired and to come up with recommendations on how to deal with the situation.