AN illegal gold panner died after a shaft he was working in collapsed in West Nicholson.
Matabeleland South acting provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena confirmed the incident which occurred on Tuesday at Umzingwane Panning Site in West Nicholson at around 1PM.
He said Noel Gumbo (41) from Mwenezi was working in a 10-metre-deep shaft when it collapsed and he was buried inside.
“I can confirm that we recorded a mine accident which occurred at Umzingwane Panning Site in West Nicholson. Noel Gumbo was illegally panning for gold in a 10-metre-deep shaft together with his nephew.
“Gumbo further went underground and entered into a tunnel which is about five metres long. The tunnel collapsed while he was inside and buried him underneath. His nephew sought help from other panners who were in the area and they managed to pull Gumbo out of the shaft while he was still alive,” she said.
Insp Mangena said Gumbo died before he could be taken to hospital. She said the matter was reported to the police who attended the scene.
Insp Mangena said it remains a cause for concern that the province kept recording a number of fatal mine accidents as a result of illegal mining activities. She said people were failing to take heed of the advise that was coming from law enforcements agents.
Insp Mangena urged members of the public to desist from engaging in illegal panning activities as they were putting their lives in danger in addition to violating the law.
She said people who want to engage in mining activities have to formalise their operations and follow the correct procedures in order to acquire necessary paper work before operating.
“It’s sad that we continue to record a number of mine accidents as a result of illegal mining activities which are rampant in the province. If people want to engage in mining they should formalise their operations. By engaging in illegal mining they will not only be committing an offence but they will also be putting their lives at risk as they will be operating without necessary equipment and protective clothing.
“Some of these illegal miners operate in the early hours of the morning in order to evade police not knowing that they will be risking their lives. People should learn to listen and also value their lives,” she said.