Scenes of grief at memorial service of deceased mineworkers

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There were scenes of anguish and grief at the memorial service for the 13 deceased Impala mineworkers in Rustenburg in the North West province. Some family members had to be escorted off the stage by medical personnel after becoming overwhelmed by their emotions.

Eleven mineworkers died at Impala’s shaft 11 last week Monday after a rope connected to a personnel lift snapped, while two more succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Devastation was evident as affected families battled to contain their sorrows.

“We are deeply hurt as families because we suspect that there could have been carelessness. One of the things that hurt us is that we were separated from them while we had plans for our families, especially at this time of the year,” says Nolunyisa Ndzuma, family representative.

Investigations continue to ascertain the cause of this tragic incident.

“Currently as we are standing here 46 of our employees remain hospitalised and under medical care at the moment. We can also report that 27 members of our team that were injured in this incident have been discharged from the hospital. A comprehensive investigation is under way and we are actively collaborating with the stakeholders and fully following statutory processes to uncover the root cause of this tragic incident,” says Impala CEO Rustenburg operations Moses Motlhageng.

“Our mine health and safety stats report indicate that we were sitting at 58 % reduction in mine fatalities. We are looking forward to ending the year with a good health and safety track record compared to the previous years. I would like also to indicate that the department will leave no stone unturned during the investigation and inquiry into this incident,” says Nobuhle Nkabane, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy.

AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa says many critical questions need to be posed to the mine.

“What was the strength of the cable that was taking workers up and down? When was is last serviced properly was the strength in relation to what is called CSIR whatever approved? Those are the question that we need to ask and you must answer us and again we still asking that if that lift or conveyance was it serviced on weekend. How was it tested?`”

Video: AMCU President Joseph addresses Memorial service for 13 mineworkers

Workers who attended the memorial say they fear that they too may fall victim to such a tragedy.

“It’s really hurts because it might happen to some of us of you don’t take extra measures to prevent such things in Impala,” a worker said.

“Our hearts are still uneasy because when you go into the shaft you know that you are dead, you have no hope that you will indeed resurface,” another worker explains.

The funerals of the deceased will commence this weekend and continue into next week.