2 more miners die as union blasts safety measures

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

The deaths of two mine workers in Harmony Gold's Tshepong mine in the Free State should never have happened, their union says.

The men were found dead on Sunday after they were trapped underground with two other workers in a rock fall that occurred on Thursday.

Their co-workers were rescued though one had to have his leg amputated.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday National Union of Mineworkers' spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said most mine accidents were caused by a lack of willingness on the part of the owners to implement safety measures to guarantee the safety of workers.

"We are perturbed that workers continue to die while the industry claims it is doing all it can to prevent it," he said.

Seshoka said 60 miners have already died this year.

"This is unacceptable. Every year we face the same situation."

He said many mine employers forced their workers to blast and drill on the same day, which was "against the law".

Harmony Gold chief executive Graham Briggs expressed the mine's regret over the death of the two men.

"We are saddened that our rescue efforts only resulted in the recovery of the bodies.

"Our rescue teams, with teams from other mines, worked around the clock to find the two employees and we remained optimistic that we would be able to rescue them.

"It is an emotional and trying time for all involved.

"Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the two men's families, friends and colleagues."

He said the teams had worked tirelessly since the day of the accident to rescue the trapped men.