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Union calls for probe into Esigodini fire tragedy which claimed 10 lives; claims massive cover-up over tragedy

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By Staff Reporter


A MINE workers union has called on the police to open investigations into the death of 10 people in Esigodini while trying to put out a veld fire.

Secretary General of the the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU), Justice Chinhema, said police must investigate why authorities indicated that the 10 people who died were farm workers.

“We are calling for a thorough investigation into this tragedy when 10 died while attempting to put out a veldfire in Esigodini in Umzingwane rural district in Matebeleland South Province,” said Chinhema.

“We believe there was a massive cover up into the incident. We discovered that out of the 10 people who died not all of them were farm workers.”

He said there was a deliberate misrepresentation from authorities that the deceased were all farm workers.

“Six of those who died were, in fact, mine workers, and of those, four were ZDAMWU members working for Asirous (Private) Limited, while two were farm workers, and the remaining two were security guys who manned both the farm and the mine,” he said.

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Chinhema said it was worrisome that authorities rushed to declare that the deceased were all farm workers.

“Why this massive cover up in the face of such a tragic incident? We are calling on the police to investigate this issue and bring proper facts to the fore,” he said.

“As a mine workers’ union, our question is, what were the mine workers doing at the farm far away from the mine?

“We need the employer to come clean on this matter because this is quite disturbing. The families of the deceased are in need of closure, and closure will only come if there is a true representation of facts.”

The risk of putting out the fire had reportedly been incentivised with a US$5-per-person fee, if the now-deceased had successful carried out the task.

“From what we are gathering the putting out of the fire was a voluntary exercise were those who would have participated would get a US$5 upon successfully putting it out,” claimed Chinhema.

“If it’s the truth, this is indeed a tragedy and representative of the challenges faced by our mine workers.

“It is sad that these deaths occurred soon after workers around the world commemorated  the World Day for Decent Work, but there is no decency in the lives of mine workers.

“It is saddening that despite being the net foreign currency earner, our mine workers would perish under such perilous circumstances in order to get a meagre token like a US$5.”

He further explained that his union has long advocated for mine employees to be properly remunerated.

“We have always advocated for our mine workers to be treated with decency,” said the union official.

“Police must indeed, investigate and come up with the true occupations of the deceased so that justice will prevail. In as much as we have buried the victims, they will only rest if justice is served.

“We further note that authorities are saying the farm is owned by a Mr Moyo. This is misleading and must not go unchallenged.

“Moyo is being used to shield the real owners. Osirous (Private) Limited is mining on Redrose Mine.

“Workers have been complaining of non-payment of wages and late payment of same which case we are handling at our Bulawayo office.”