When 22-year-old Mr Rania Moyo left home at around 4 am on Thursday last week for work at Velocity 36 Mine in Silobela, he never bothered to bid his parents goodbye as he believed he would return home as usual.
There was no way he could have known that one hour later he was going to be trapped 100 metres underground for the next four days.
When he arrived at work that day, he met his workmates and they proceeded to enter the mine shaft at around 5 am. Soon after, the shaft started collapsing and his two workmates managed to navigate through the cave-in, to reach the entrance.
The shaft where Rania Moyo was trapped underground for four days at Velocity 36 Mine in Silobela
They escaped right before a big boulder fell and blocked the opening, trapping Mr Moyo inside the shaft.
“The moment l realised l was trapped underground in that shaft, l prayed to God asking him to accept my soul in heaven because l did not think l would come out alive,” said Mr Moyo, who was rescued on Monday afternoon and is recovering from his home in Silobela.
“It was around 5 am and we had just entered the shaft when the mine started caving in. We immediately moved towards the entrance trying to escape before it could get blocked,” he said.
Mr Moyo said he knew death was suddenly catching up with him when he was trapped in the shaft in a space so small that he could not even stretch his legs or sit up straight. He was trapped in a space so dark he could not even see his own hands. He said temperatures also dropped and he felt like he was going to freeze inside the shaft that Thursday morning.
“I could not even move a muscle and l knew screaming was not going to help. I do not know when was the last time l prayed, but on that day, l prayed really hard, asking God to accept my soul when l get to heaven. I apologised for all the wrong things that l have done in my life because l didn’t think I would survive,” said Mr Moyo.
The miner said he is not really sure what day or time it was when he finally heard movement and voices of people outside trying to communicate with him.
“Because l had no food or water, whenever I started feeling weak l would scoop a handful of soil and eat it to try and regain my energy,” Mr Moyo said.
He said the shaft became his home and toilet for what he has now been told were four days.
“On the day the entrance was opened l could not believe l had survived. It seemed like a dream because l have never heard of anyone who survives being underground for days without food and water,” he said.
The miner said he was taken to Silobela District Hospital where he was checked and given boosters to regain his energy. He was discharged on the same day and is still recovering from home.
Will this mine worker go back to the mine where he nearly died?
“I have no choice, but to go back to the shaft as soon as I regain my strength because this is the only source of income that l know. If l do not go back in the mine shaft, it means my family will go hungry,” he said.
The miner’s mother, Mrs Polite Moyo, said she arrived at the scene on Saturday and never thought she would ever see her son alive again
She said when he was rescued, he was taken for a medical check-up.
“He came out on Monday; it was on the fifth day. He did not eat anything. I never thought he would come out alive,” she said.
Kwekwe District Civil Protection Unit chairperson Mr Fortune Mpungu thanked everyone who came to rescue Mr Moyo.
“When l heard the news, I immediately put the word out that help was needed at the mine. The Ministry of Mines, police, small-scale miners, and the community came to help the CPU in saving the young man. This incident showed everyone that a community comes together in times of need and they assist each other,” he said.
He said the teams camped outside the shaft regularly engaging with the miner to ensure that he was still alive.
“I am urging all small-scale miners to ensure that their mines are regularly inspected to ensure the safety of their miners. Miners should avoid going underground when it is raining as the soil will be loose,” said Mr Mpungu. –