Close to 1000 mineworkers were pulled alive from the Sibanye’s Beatrix gold mine shafts where they were trapped for more than 30 hours about 1800m below ground as a result of a power failure caused by a severe storm on Wednesday night. Eskom restored power in the early hours of Friday morning after attempts to rescue the workers using generators failed. Miners described the incident as “close to death” memory which will always be in their mind for years to come. However, one miner who survived similar ordeal last year, said his last week’s 32 hours underground was more scarier and threatening.
Dumelang news caught-up with a mineworker – who requested not to be named fearing possible victimisation from the management. The father of one girl in Virginia – about 40km north of Beatrix mine in Theunissen - told the paper that only his daughter and wife kept him fighting hunger, dehydration and fear of death.
He said the fear of slow and painful death kicked in his mind on Thursday; “That happened soon after we realized that none of the Icam (which help us testing gas underground) were all not working and there is no way out... even to another shaft. We kept on trying to talk to each other until we had nothing to say except thinking of your family and what will happen to them should you not make it out alive”.
“hours went by with no means of communication, water or food... only the thoughts and faces of my family every time my eyes closes,” he said with a sad face looking down. He said his brother in law died in a mine in Welkom in 2009 while he survived the similar situation last year when lift got from underground got stuck for hours. “The whole ordeal was difficult and scary,” he said.
However, the Mine spokesperson James Wellsted rubbished claims that food and water was not supplied to miners. “The company was supplying food and water to the workers trapped underground at 3 shaft by deploying a capsule down the shaft,” he said. Meanwhile, The mining company has suffered the second incident of trapped miners in a space of a week. Two miners lost their lives after they were trapped by a rock fall underground in Sibanye-Stillwater (Kloof Mine) in Gauteng on Wednesday morning.