Whatever happened on that fateful night when four miners died in an underground accident at Mopani must be made known, says ZCTU president Nkole Chishimba.
And mines minister Christopher Yaluma says the death of the miners spoke volumes of the fact that a lot still needed to be done to make mines in the country safe for operations.
Four miners died at Mopani’s South Ore Body underground mine two weeks ago after the underground earth collapsed at a site where they were working.
A combined rescue team worked round the clock to retrieve the remains of Emmanuel Kyongola, Honest Mushota and Arnold Mambwe, all machine operators, and Abel Munthali, a workman.
Speaking at a service held at Nkana Stadium yesterday before the burial of the four victims, Chishimba, who is also Mineworkers
Union of Zambia president, said the tragedy had gone down as one of the saddest moments in the history of mining and the nation.
“We are deeply disappointed that after eight years since a similar accident happened, we have recorded another fatal mine accident when there are technological advances in mine safety. We want to know whether this accident was predictable and if it was predictable, it could have also been avoided. This situation calls for thorough investigations and only the truth will make everyone know what really transpired,” Chishimba said.
He said the death of the four miners had triggered emotion and anxiety among relatives, friends and workmates od the deceased.
Chishimba further called on Mopani Copper Mines to employ the widows of the deceased so that they could have an income to take care of the children and families they had left behind.
“Death is painful and there is nothing that we can do to replace our departed brothers but at least there must be some relief. The burden that is on the widows must be made light. We appeal to Mopani to place them on permanent employment so that they could be in a position to get some income to look after their families,” said Chishimba.
And Yaluma said the government was deeply saddened by the death of the four miners, adding that more needed to be done to make mines safe.
“My appeal to my friends, the miners, is that please never ever carry out tasks in an environment that is not safe. If it’s not safe, don’t do it and nobody will fire you for that. It is your right,” he said.
And Yaluma announced that the government had liaised with Mopani Copper Mines and that a relative from each family of the four victims would be employed without delay.
Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Johan Jansen said losing a loved one through such a tragedy was devastating and the company was deeply saddened by what had happened.
The four men were interred at Nkana East Cemetery in Kitwe yesterday.