Nine workers dead in mine accident

Nine miners have died after an accident at the Gold Fields South Deep Mine near Randfontein in Gauteng, the chief inspector of mines said on Thursday. Thabo Gazi said he received a report on the accident at about 12pm.

It is believed that the cage carrying the men fell down a shaft after a cable snapped.

Inspectors were on site investigating the incident.

The bodies of the miners had been recovered and were being taken to a mortuary.

Department of Minerals and Energy spokesperson Bheki Khumalo confirmed the incident.

Gold Fields spokesperson Reidwaan Wookay also confirmed that an accident had occurred, however no further details were immediately available.

Trade union Solidarity said the cage carrying the mine workers plummeted two levels down the mine shaft after the cage cable snapped.

Eight of the deceased workers were contract workers for Murray and Roberts Cementation while the other was a South Deep Mine employee.

”The union … implores Gold Fields to take all necessary steps to put the current cycle of accidents to an immediate end,” said Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), meanwhile, called for ”heads to roll” at Gold Fields.

Spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said: ”Staff should get arrested and charged.”

He said in many instances mine bosses had been found guilty of negligence and culpable homicide but they had never been prosecuted.

”There is a dire need for bosses to be prosecuted and sent to jail [and] rot there, otherwise the issue of safety will never be addressed.”

Seshoka said the cable that broke was meant to have maintenance work done once a week.

”If they had maintenance done last week, how can it break like that?” he asked.

Seshoka said the workers were working on Workers’ Day because South Deep Mine followed a ”continuous operations” schedule.

He said the average wage of the miners was about R3 000 a month.

He sad 14 mine workers at Gold Fields had died this week.

On Tuesday, four workers died after becoming trapped during a seismic event, and another due to a ground fall.

Seshoka said the morale of workers at Gold Fields was very low at the moment.

”This is war,” he said.

”Why are these men being sent down to die instead of being sent to make a living so their children can live.” — Sapa

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