By Romio Takundwa
Mashonaland Central province in the past week recorded five deaths of illegal miners with most of them in Mazowe District.
This was confirmed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) provincial public relations and liaisons officer Assistant Inspector Naison Dhliwayo.
Dhliwayo said this is due to the surge in number of people venturing into illegal mining activities in disused mining shafts across the province.
“Zivanai Gofatt (35) and Nicholas Chipuriro (40) both of Avoca Farm in Bindura on 24 June proceeded to pan for gold along Mazowe River and got into an 8 meters deep shaft and dug tunnel inside the shaft.
“Whilst the two were inside, the tunnel suddenly collapsed trapping the two inside and their bodies were retrieved by other illegal miners who were nearby.
“In another incident, in Umusasa Farm in Mazowe, on 19 June at around 19:00 Roland Chiweshe (28) of Kaitano Village under Chief Negomo in Chiweshe who was in the company of Tinashe Gorovhani (19) of Mutorashanga perished in a mining shaft as well which was 43 meters deep after a heap of soil fell on him whilst Tinashe managed to escape,” he said.
Inspector Dhliwayo also confirmed the death of Oliver Ndodo (30) of Chakaoma Village Chief Dotito in Mt Darwin and Moses Manyika (29) of Chiwaridza farm Bindura.
“The two entered into a mining shaft at SOS Jumbo mine whilst their colleague Sailos Makanzi (30) of 2553 in Kuwadzana 4 Harare was on guard , later Makanzi tried to communicate with them but to no avail.
“Silas then decided to follow them but failed after he was chocked by some toxic gases that were coming from the same pit. He then called for help from other panners who then came and rescued him and the two.
“However, Oliver and Moses were confirmed dead upon admission at Concession Hospital.
Inspector Dhliwayo urged illegal gold miners to formalize their activities so as to minimize loss of life.
ZRP has since intensified patrols in illegal mining areas across the province encouraging them to register with the Ministry of Mines and arresting those whom they would have came across.
Zimbabwe has been plagued with mine disasters over the last few years often resulting in deaths of scores of miners. Most of deaths are being witnessed at disused mining shafts.