A gold panner was buried alive on Sunday, a day after he was hired to work at a disused gold mine at Wollendale Farm in Matobo District, Matabeleland South.
Khulekani Sibanda-Ngwenya, 28, was on Tuesday exhumed from the 10-metre deep pit by an excavator after villagers had failed to dig him out for two days.
Fellow workmates said Ngwenya had gone into the pit to check on the water pump, which was failing to pump water out of the pit.
His grieving parents, Ndumiso Ngwenya and Sibusisiwe Sibanda looked with shock as their son’s lifeless body was retrieved from the shaft with his face covered in blood and ribs crushed.
A neighbour and fellow workmate Lizwe Phiri said Sibanda-Ngwenya was buried when the mine shaft caved in and one of his colleagues attempted to save him to no avail.
"We saw him stumbling and Shingi went in to try and rescue him. He, however, failed to rescue him as he inhaled harmful gaseous fumes from the pump and quickly rushed out of the shaft. The mine started caving in as Shingi rushed out," said Phiri.
Phiri said he was ironically saved by Sibanda-Ngwenya on Saturday after a similar incident with the water pump.
"On Saturday the same thing happened with the pump and when I went down I passed out. After I recovered some hours later I was told that Khulekani rushed in and rescued me," said Phiri.
Angry villagers blamed the mine owner Todd Chitando for failing to ensure the safety of his workers.