‘People came here to work but they are dying’


A street vendor has described how she had sleepless nights following the death of mineworkers at the Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine west of Joburg.

Mampho Moeketsi said her brother was working in shaft number one where the miners were trapped underground. Seven mineworkers died underground following seismic activities at the mine. Five of them were found on Friday and two yesterday morning.

Standing at her mini-shop, the 44-year-old said she was worried about her brother as the mine had not released the names of the miners who were involved in the incident.

“I don’t know if he is also involved because he always changes shifts. What makes me worried is that some of them were injured it’s been days without seeing him.”

She said she was also concerned about his children.

“I pray that he is safe because his children need him. They are young and need his guidance as a head of the family. One is eight and the other six, so you can imagine they still need him,” said Moeketsi.

A group of miners also told The Sunday Independent that their lives were at risk at the mine. They said they were not surprised about the incident as they were forced to work under dangerous conditions.

“What happened yesterday is painful. People came here to work but they are dying. These people have been trapped underground since Thursday and we’ve been forced to continue with our job as if nothing happened,” said one.

“This hurts because the same might happen to us. Some families lost breadwinners. We really don’t know what is happening and are very worried.”

Andrew Mohale, 51, a former employee at the mine, said Sibanye did not take the safety of workers seriously.

“Such incidents have been happening and nothing has been done to stop them. I know Sibanye because I worked there from 1995 until I took voluntary retrenchment in 2016.

“After this incident, I said thank you, God, I am no longer working there.

“But I am worried about those involved because I still have friends there and I feel for their families,” he said.

Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said 13 miners were involved in the incident. Seven had died and six others were injured.

Wellsted said they were providing counselling to the families of the affected miners.

“Some (families) are coming from as far as Mozambique, Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal. We will launch an investigation. However, it is going to take a few days before that happens,” he said.

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