The suspension of body recoveries at Task Mining Syndicate in Chegutu and Matshetshe Mine in Esigodini on safety grounds will be re-examined next week to see how the need to avoid more casualties can be balanced against the desire of families to give a proper burial to victims in collapsed tunnels.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando yesterday told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development chaired by Shurugwi South MP Cde Edmond Mkaratigwa (Zanu PF) that he will soon meet officials, including Chief Mining Engineer Michael Munodawafa and other stakeholders and would make a decision by Monday.
Minister Chitando was giving oral evidence before the committee on what his ministry was doing to curb rising cases of trapped miners.
Legislators felt that the ministry might be hurriedly taking a decision to stop recovery operations before exhausting other interventions.
Bikita West MP Cde Elias Musakwa (Zanu PF) gave an example of Task Mining Syndicate in Chegutu where members from the community retrieved one body of the five trapped by defying a directive that had been issued by Eng Munodawafa banning all recovery operations.
He said efforts to recover the remaining four bodies were stopped after police intervention who were acting on a certificate issued by the Government Chief Mining Engineer stopping all rescue operations.
In the case of the Esigodini mine, Cde Mkaratigwa said legislators got to the vicinity of Matshetshe Mine where there were six miners trapped.
He said the legislators got to the collapsed mine despite the fact that Eng Munodawafa had issued a certificate banning people from getting within two kilometres, saying doing so was risky as the ground was shacky.
In his response, Minister Chitando outlined immediate and medium term solutions his Ministry would undertake.
“On short term, I will consider all the issues that you have raised regarding the Chegutu and Esigodini incidents to see what short term measures can be done,” he said. “We need to go and caucus with my officials to see what intervention measures can be taken at the two mines and we will come back here on Monday with a feedback because these are immediate measures.”
Minister Chitando said he will also explore medium term measures at the beginning of next year on measures to be taken to mitigate the accidents.