Another sigh of relief echoed at the Gold One Mine Modder Easter Mine after more than 400 miners re-emerged to the surface after four days underground.
ANOTHER sigh of relief echoed at the Gold One Mine Modder Easter Mine late on Monday after more than 400 miners re-emerged to the surface after four days trapped underground.
There was a lot of singing and dancing from some of the miners who were waiting patiently for their colleagues to re-emerge from underground after spending four days trapped inside the mine shaft.
The latest incident was described by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, as a hostage situation, and no longer a sit-in, after it was revealed that at least three miners were badly assaulted by unknown culprits underground and let out of the mine at the weekend.
This comes after the mine retrenched 70 workers who were alleged to have participated in the previous sit-in at the mine in October.
“This weekend, we visited Gold One Modder East operations to engage with mine management and the workers on possible solutions to the underground sit-ins. Regrettably, the situation changed dramatically with evidence pointing to a hostage situation which requires police intervention,” Mantashe told Newzroom Afrika on Sunday.
An employee who identified himself as Hendrik Nchabeleng, described the last four days as challenging.
“All the workers have been struggling to get food. There was no food there and we became hungry and we decided that we needed to return to the surface as it was starting to become dangerous without food,” the worker said.
Sifiso Nkosi, who is the National Union of Mineworkers branch secretary at the mine, said all the employees resurfaced on Monday after spending nearly four days in the mine.
“We can confirm that all employees have resurfaced and those who needed medical attention were able to get assistance. I can also confirm that those assaults that took place were taken from them,” he said.
Nkosi added that the union was assisting some of the workers who were dismissed by the company for allegedly taking part in the first sit-in at the mine two months ago.
“We are assisting some of the employees who came forward to appeal against their dismissal. Our relationship with our members is still alive. It is a great concern to us because some of our members have been bullied and victimised by some hooligans who are not satisfied, but they need to take this up with the company,” he said.
According to the latest media reports, the return of the miners was due to food supply shortages.
The mine’s head of legal Ziyaad Hassam told 702 that more than 300 of the 400 workers had already resurfaced with the rest expected to come out during the course of the day.
“We anticipate that the remainder will also be coming up to the surface in the coming minutes, but we will confirm that once that has been resolved.
“We do think there is an end in sight. We certainly hope that everybody will be coming up to the surface. We will do a headcount to make sure that that is the case,” he said.