The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Pfungwa Kunaka has announced the suspension of rescue operations at Bayhorse Mine in Chegutu due to what he said was a government directive as agreed in the cabinet meeting of the 10th of October 2023, Mining Zimbabwe has learnt.
According to the Chegutu Miners Association chairperson, Kunaka announced that, the government made this decision in accordance with the reports which were sent by the District CPU as being guided by the appointed rescue team which confirmed the status of the underground as no longer safe for the rescue operations.
Kunaka was reportedly accompanied by Ministry of Mines officials both from the Head and Provincial Mines and Mining Development offices Provincial and District CPU members. Present also were Chief Ngezi and his traditional teams, local councillors, relatives of the deceased and the community at large.
After Mr Kunaka announced the suspension of the rescue operations, Mambo Ngezi advised the relatives of the deceased to briefly wait for the date to be announced by his office for the cleansing ceremony of the mine prior to the ritual procedures to be taken by families of the deceased according to one’s tradition.
The Ministry of Mines announced only the suspension of the retrieval operations, not mining operations but promised the attendees that the Ministry engaged the mine owner on how and when the mine can resume the mining operations. The permanent secretary announced the engagement with the mine owner on the possible assistance that might be accessed by the relatives of those whom the rescue team failed to retrieve.
Commenting on the move, Chegutu Miners Association Chairman Mr Innocent Nicks said the decision was the right one considering the danger rescuers face from the unstable ground.
“I can safely say the government has taken a good stance considering the danger of continuation of retrieval operations otherwise we would have endangered more people. The decision made by the government was based on the recommendations made by the rescue team therefore there will be no one to blame,” Nicks said.
The Chegutu area is not new to bodies abandoned after rescue attempts become dangerous. In 2020 five ASM lost their lives when a shaft collapsed trapping the men underground. Only one body was retrieved and the rest remain underground with all hope lost for exhumation for decent burial.