Tensions escalate as trapped miners’ relatives gather at Redwing Mine

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Tensions escalated at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga as the families of approximately 11 trapped artisanal miners voiced their frustration, accusing the government of mishandling the rescue mission. The miners became trapped underground after a mine shaft collapsed, with initial assessments suggesting that earth tremors may have caused the accident.

Owned by Metallon Corporation, Redwing Mine had a shaft in the Tsapauta area that was being operated by individuals who employed artisanal miners for gold-mining activities. Relatives of the missing miners, who had gathered at the site, claimed that no significant rescue efforts had been made since the incident occurred last Thursday. This contradicted statements by the Mines Ministry on Friday, which suggested that rescue operations were already underway. Some relatives even believed that up to 15 miners could be trapped in the collapsed shaft.

Elizabeth Zhou, who anxiously awaited news of her four trapped relatives, expressed her frustration, accusing government officials of lying about the incident and neglecting the rescue efforts. Zhou had travelled from Gwanda in Matabeleland South upon hearing about the accident and demanded the truth be revealed to the nation. She also revealed that the individuals expected to conduct the rescue mission were demanding food from the families, adding to their distress and financial burden.

Fortunate Mapuranga from Karoi maintained hope that his son and another relative were still alive among the trapped miners. Despite the harrowing situation, he clung to optimism and prayed for their safe rescue.

Misheck Mugadza, Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister, disclosed that they had received support from outside the province to aid in the rescue efforts. Mining companies had sent teams and equipment to assist in the operation. While there was hope for positive results, it was acknowledged that the mission was challenging and fraught with difficulties.

Two organizations, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) led by James Mupfumi and the Penhalonga Youth and Development Trust led by Clinton Masanga, held the government accountable for the mining disaster at Redwing Mine. They pointed out that the collapse likely occurred between levels 4 and 5, approximately 140 to 180 meters underground.

Illegal miners who had been camping at the site expressed concerns that there might be additional individuals trapped underground. They highlighted the possibility of unauthorized miners sneaking into the mine, making it difficult to determine the exact number of those affected.

Rescue efforts were hindered by adverse weather conditions, according to Tawanda Mukodza, Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairman. Despite the challenges, ongoing rescue operations persisted.

Mines Minister Zhemu Soda visited the area on Friday to assess the situation firsthand.

Redwing Mine has been predominantly operated by unauthorized subsistence miners since it was placed under corporate rescue in 2020, as stated in a Friday statement by Metallon Gold.

This recent incident at Redwing Mine serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by artisanal miners and the urgent need for improved safety measures within the mining industry. As the rescue mission continues, the affected families anxiously await news of their loved ones, hoping for a successful and swift recovery.

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