By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Hwange residents, Saturday, took to social media to pay tribute to the 427 Kamandama mine disaster victims.
On June 6, 1972, a series of explosions occurred at the Hwange Colliery Kamandama shaft claiming 427 lives following a methane gas explosion.
The victims were from Zimbabwe, Bostwana, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia while others were from European countries.
The accident became the worst mine disaster to have occurred in the country with surviving family members of the victims and community members calling on the government to declare the day, a public holiday.
Relieving the moments, one of the victims’ s daughter said her father died when she was only six years.
“I was only six years, but l remember the incident which occured at around 10 AM on that day. No child deserves to hear such…I was so young and our lives have never been the same. May the Lord continue to comfort our families on this tough day,” Simelwe Mwale posted.
Emmanuel Ngoma wrote: “My mother lost her father at the age of 14 during this disaster. He was a miner from Zambia.”
Some, however, expressed displeasure at how the government has handled the disaster.
“Unfortunately, the government seems to have long forgotten the event,” Christopher Mudenda wrote on Facebook.
“There is no support for those who lost their parents and there is zero support to Wankie community.”
Calvin Mwale added: “May their souls continue to rest in peace. I suggest the Member of Parliament must address this issue (at government level) and consider making this day a public holiday.”
Hwange Colliery Limited Company Corporate Affairs manager Rugare Dobbie, said this year’s commemorations were cancelled due to Covid-19.
“In light of this (pandemic) HCCL will not be conducting Kamandama Gold tournament together with the memorial which is normally held annually held on the 5th and 6th of June respectively,” she said.
“We will continue with its philanthropic efforts to ensure the surviving widows are taken care of, especially in these trying times.
Dobbie continued:“The deceased miners will always have special place in our hearts and we will continue to take care of the widows and the dependents through our human resources department.”
She said the Kamandama tragedy ushered in a new and better approach to safety management in the mining sector as a whole.
“Resultantly great strides in the area of safety have been recorded since this fateful day.”
“As HCCL zero harm continues to be our mainstay; we eat, live and breathe safety in all our operations proudly providing so much more than just coal.”