The African Diaspora Forum (ADF), an umbrella body of migrant communities, has confirmed that four Zimbabweans were among the 21 suspected illegal miners whose bodies were discovered in a mineshaft in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa.
According to the ADF, authorities must take precautions to protect underground miners, especially during the rainy season.
Initially, 19 bodies of suspected illegal miners, known in South Africa as ‘zama zama,’ were discovered on Wednesday in Krugersdorp on the West Rand, but two more bodies were discovered on Thursday morning, bringing the total to 21.
Ten more suspected miners are said to be trapped elsewhere in Springs, on Gauteng’s eastern side.
In an interview with CITE, ADF Executive Director Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena, who is also the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said steps needed to be taken to protect underground miners, as he confirmed that four of the deceased were Zimbabweans.
“We know that four of those whose bodies were found are Zimbabwean as they were relatives. We are not sure of other deceased though there are rumours they are also migrants and that they might be Zimbabweans, that we can’t confirm. We can only confirm four,” Mabhena said.
“Our main concern is the safety underground, we call on everyone involved in the mining to make sure that before they go underground, there is safety. This is why we call for regulation of this mining so that safety can be put in place so we do not continue losing lives,” he said.
Mabhena stressed the importance of safety, citing other recent deaths of underground miners.
“This is not the first incident. It happened in 2016 we assisted in retrieving bodies of other miners who died underground in Johannesburg. In 2019, we did the same in Benoni. Early this year, some also died underground. We are worried about these deaths,” said the ADF executive director.
“ADF offers its condolences to the families of the 21 miners who died in Krugersdorp. We are told that the mine shaft was flooded because of the rainy season and people lost their lives. Our deepest condolences to the families.”