Rustenburg – The four mineworkers who died after a fire broke out at Impala Platinum mine near Rustenburg, died trying to improve their lives, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said on Wednesday.
“The four comrades died trying to better their lives; they all wanted to provide for their families, they wanted to build houses for their families,” said general secretary Jeff Mphahlele at the memorial service for the four workers.
He said the fatalities in the mining industry would not stop until the department of mineral resources took action against mining companies.
Mosielele Johannes Sesimane, 40, Mosala George Moloele, 47, Stephen Johnny Kgari, 39, and Tshotlego Rantsiripana Moyo, 50, died after a fire broke out underground on Friday night. They died of smoke inhalation.
Mphahlele told workers to refuse to work in dangerous places. “I have not represented a worker who was charged for refusing to work in a dangerous place. You should refuse to work in risky areas. If you call me to represent you for refusing to work in a dangerous place, I will come running,” he said to the applause of the crowd.
The chairperson of Impala’s board of directors, Mandla Gantsho, said the accident would be thoroughly investigated.
“Everything possible will be done to investigate the accident to prevent [a] further occurrence. The outcome and recommendations of this investigation will be fully implemented and there will be consequences,” he said.
Gantsho said he shared the anger and frustration of family members and union officials as there were still many unanswered questions.
Two of the families and local Amcu leaders blasted the mine, alleging the death of the four could have been prevented had they not been not allowed to go underground.
Gomolemo Sesimane, speaking on behalf of Mosielele Johannes Sesimane’s family, said the fire was detected at 17:00 but despite that, mineworkers were instructed to work underground at 22:00.
“Our brothers were sent to die underground. We are hurt,” said Sesimane.
Akanyang Moyo, for Tshotlego Rantsiripana Moyo’s family, said: “I think the accident was preventable. The fire was detected and our brothers were sent down to die.”
The four would be laid to rest this weekend.
Scrap winch operator, Mosala George Moloele, would be buried in Dwarsberg Village, outside Rustenburg. Tshotlego Rantsiripana Moyo would be buried at Driefontein Village in Zeerus and Stephen Johnny Kgari would be buried at Mokgola Village in Zeerust.
Panel leader Mosielele Johannes Sesimane would be laid to rest at Henningvlei Village in Kuruman in the Northern Cape.
Thousands of Impala workers gathered at shaft number six to bid farewell to the four workers.NEWS 24