'My son died such a horrible death‚' mourns miner’s mother

17 July 2018 - 12:24 By Naledi Shange
Police are still investigating the death of the six mineworkers after the fire over the weekend.
Police are still investigating the death of the six mineworkers after the fire over the weekend.
Image: Gallo Images/ iStockphoto

Limpopo police have released the names of the six mineworkers who were killed in an underground fire at the Palabora Mining Company in Phalaborwa over the weekend.

Amongst them was 60-year-old Vula Mayindi. The youngest in the group was Russel Ricardo Warne‚ aged 24.

The others were named as Peter Selowa‚ 32; Kgotso Peter Sekgobela‚ 29; Lebogang Maake‚ 37; and 26-year-old Shaun Mashigo.

The Sowetan reported on Tuesday that Mashigo's mother‚ Kedibone‚ had spoken of the trauma of having to identify her son's charred remains.

"I went to identify him and he was burnt beyond recognition. His face was unrecognisable‚" said Kedibone Mashigo.

"It's so painful to me that my son died such a horrible death."

His face was unrecognisable.

Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said that police were still investigating the death of the six after the fire over the weekend.

“The cause of this incident is still not clear at this stage‚ but the police investigations in conjunction with other roleplayers‚ including the affected mine‚ will tell as they are still continuing‚” said Ngoepe.

All but one of the mineworkers who were trapped underground at the copper mine died.

On Monday‚ the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) gave an account of what happened.

"According to reports received from Amcu’s Limpopo East leadership‚ a fire broke out at the Palabora Mining Company‚ a copper mine in eastern Limpopo‚ at around 1.25am‚" union head Joseph Mathunjwa said in a statement.

“The fire reportedly started at conveyor belt five. When smoke was seen by a logistic belt operator‚ the workers were instructed to evacuate the area to the closest refuge chamber.

“The proto team at the mine itself was reportedly not ready to complete the rescue. Therefore another proto team from the Burgersfort area had to be called in. Unfortunately‚ this team arrived late and could only start work at around 11am.

“They managed to recover one living and two deceased mineworkers from the mine‚ but the high temperatures‚ which rose from 64 to 67°C‚ made the rescue efforts almost impossible‚" said Mathunjwa.

The other mineworkers were later confirmed to have died in the refuge chamber.

Amcu said it would help with the investigation into the incident and called on the department of mineral resources to intervene.