President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been dragged to court by the families of artisanal miners trapped underground after Esigodini mine collapsed.
The families want the president to declare the collapse a national disaster to cause the abandoned rescue operations to resume.
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In an urgent chamber application filed at the Bulawayo High Court on Monday, Patience Ncube, mother to one of the trapped miners Nkosilathi, appealed for an order directing Mnangagwa and government agencies to implement an emergency rescue operation.
Reads in part the application filed on behalf of the family by its lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers:
That the 5th respondent declares Matshetshe Mine collapse a disaster within the meaning of section 27 of the Civil Protection Unit Act.
That the provincial civil protection officer Matabeleland South province must within 48 hours of this order direct the 4th respondent within his area to prepare an emergency plan for the rescue/evacuation of the trapped miners or their bodies.
The mine collapsed on 10 November due to flash floods and the rescue operations have since been suspended after government chief mining engineer, Michael Munodawafa said it was too risky.
Munodawafa said it would take over a year of continuous work before any success was achieved as the area “is characterised by friable ground, loose rock material and debris posing the danger for further collapse.”
The six artisanal miners who were trapped underground were identified as Nkosilathi Ndlovu (29), Christopher Dube (23), Ndumiso Dube (19), Blessed Ncube (24), Nduduzo Ntini (28) and another only identified as Mlilo.
The families of the trapped miners said the rescue mission was important for “us as families to find closure in this issue and possibly be allowed to do traditional family rites.”