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IMPLATS TRAGEDY

‘Our most trusted soldiers’ — 13 Implats miners who died in cage plunge honoured at memorial service

‘Our most trusted soldiers’ — 13 Implats miners who died in cage plunge honoured at memorial service
Erick Fanisile Libada. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg on Wednesday held a memorial service for the 13 workers who died in a conveyance cage accident at the mine last week.

Among the 13 miners who died in an accident at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg on 27 November were rock drill operators, scraper winch operators, panel operators, miner and development rock drill operators. They came from the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Lesotho.

They died after a conveyance cage hoisting miners to the surface after their shift at the mine’s 11 Shaft plunged about 200m. Initially, 11 people died in the accident, with 75 others seriously injured. Another two miners died in hospital from their injuries.

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Family members at the memorial service at the Implats 2 Shaft, Simunye Hostel on 6 December 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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Family members at the memorial service. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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A family member overcome with grief is comforted by ushers. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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Family members of the deceased sit behind portraits of their loved ones at the memorial service held at Implats 2 Shaft, Simunye Hostel on 6 December 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Implats has committed to investigating the cause of the accident and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has promised to launch a public inquiry into the matter.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Failure of emergency protocol led to death of 11 Implats miners after ‘rapid descent’ of conveyance cage

The miners who died were honoured during a memorial service at Implats on Wednesday. They were:

Khayalethu Joel Bhekamane (41)

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Khayalethu Joel Bhekamane. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Khayalethu Joel Bhekamane was a rock drill operator from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for four years.

Vuyane Dangazele (45)

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Vuyane Dangazele. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Vuyane Dangazele was a rock drill operator from Libode in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for four years. 

Mcingeni Dlabone (42) 

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Mcingeni Dlabone. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Mcingeni Dlabone was a scraper winch operator from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 19 years.

Mncedisi Hukwana (48)

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Mncedisi Hukwana. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Mncedisi Hukwana was a rock drill operator from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 18 years.

Eric Fanisile Libada (48)

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Erick Fanisile Libada. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Eric Fanisile Libada was a rock drill operator from Libode in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 14 years.

Morena Mohlomi (33)

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Morena Mohlomi. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Morena Mohlomi was a miner from Carletonville in Gauteng. He had worked at the mine for one year.

Petrus Nare (44)

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Petros Nare. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Petrus Nare was a scraper winch operator from Rustenburg in North West. He had worked at the mine for 10 years. 

Mandisi Nkulwana (44)

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Mandisi Nkulwana. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Mandisi Nkulwana was a rock drill operator from Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 11 years. 

Zwelethu Nomsuka (43)

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Zwelethu Nomsuka. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Zwelethu Nomsuka was a scraper winch operator from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 16 years.

Raselebedi Elias Ntoi (40)

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Raselebedi Elias Ntoi. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Raselebedi Elias Ntoi was a panel operator from Maputsoe in Lesotho. He had worked at the mine for 17 years. 

Siyabulela Nzume (53)

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Siyabulela Nzume. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Siyabulela Nzume was a scraper winch operator from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape. He had worked at the mine for 22 years.  

Lethola Qebe (59)

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Lethola Qebe. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Lethola Qebe was a development rock drill operator from Quthing in Lesotho. He had worked at the mine for 22 years.

Marumo Shasha (51)

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Marumo Shasha. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Marumo Shasha was a rock drill operator from Butha Buthe in Lesotho. He had worked at the mine for 11 years. 

Nolungisa Nzume, representing the families of eight of the dead miners from the Eastern Cape, told attendees at the memorial service at the Implats 2 Shaft, Simunye Hostel: 

“I stand here on behalf of the many families who lost their loved ones to the tragedy. They were not just mineworkers, they were breadwinners, they left behind children, wives, siblings, parents, colleagues and the community they lived in.

“It’s a big loss for us… We are wounded and believe that the loss of our loved ones was due to a level of carelessness. What hurts the most, we parted ways with our loved ones with plans and hopes for the future, especially at this time of the year. No one knows or feels our pain, only God and us can attest to the pain. 

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Mourners at the Implats 2 Shaft, Simunye Hostel on 6 December 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“We hope an incident such as this one never happens again. However, we are very grateful for the support from management, the union and the broader community. We hope they will continue to support us.”

A representative for the other bereaved families, Leemetsekae Shasha, told those gathered: “We had sent out our most trusted soldiers to go and work and prevent the hunger back at home. But now they are gone, leaving no one behind to fend for their families.”

Ongoing support

Implats has committed to offering ongoing support to the families of the dead miners in the form of psychosocial support, counselling, transport for burials, and schooling for children.

Impala Platinum’s Alice Lourens told Daily Maverick, “Measures to sustain family incomes are prioritised and employment at the group is offered to a family member or their nominated alternative.”

CEO of Impala Rustenburg, Moses Motlhageng, said, “This has been one of the darkest weeks in the mining industry. We have lost 13 of our very own. It is a difficult time for the company and its employees as we come to terms with this loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those affected.

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Amcu members sing at the memorial service. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“We are committed to providing support and assistance to those who need it during this time of mourning and we stand together in honouring their memory and providing solace to one another. 

“As of the current information, 46 of our members are still hospitalised, while 27 have been discharged from hospital… While there remains no simple answer to this accident, we remain committed to investigating and determining what happened and will ensure we are transparent about the outcomes.”

Among those at the memorial service were Deputy Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) President Joseph Mathunjwa, Royal Bafokeng representatives, and the executive mayors of the Bojanala District Municipality and Rustenburg Local Municipality.

Mathunjwa said at the memorial service: “These platinum mines are making trillions at the expense of black mineworkers. Those workers who perished in that conveyancer received a wage-slave salary. If that conveyancer was being serviced on the weekend before the incident, how was it tested? Why do you use human beings to test your cage? Is it because the life of a mineworker is worthless?

“We need to amend the Mine Health and Safety Act… It’s the only way to hold mine corporations accountable and to hinder such incidents from happening. We are in this together … we are to do an investigation to see what has happened and that will give us closure.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Pity the anc and their “our people” don’t hold daily memorial services to publicise and honour the plight of the countless citizens murdered and raped each day under their anc’s hopeless law enforcement effort….no, its easier to attack and blame and sensationalise free market enterprise’s “faults” when accidental death occurs in a very dangerous commercial operation.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    My heart goes out to the families of the deceased.
    None of us should forget the contribution the mines & miners have made – its the foundation on which our economy was built.
    These were also Men living & working far away from their homes wanting to make a living for their families
    Their death is tragic but so are their circumstances & stories

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    It’s a tragic event. Nobody deserves to die like that.
    But is this the legacy – “We need to amend the Mine Health and Safety Act… It’s the only way to hold mine corporations accountable and to hinder such incidents from happening. We are in this together … we are to do an investigation to see what has happened and that will give us closure.”
    If that is the case, kindly remind me – of the 250+ people who die in taxi related road accidents each year, how many receive a send-off like this? How many receive taxi industry compensation? Where is our ‘Taxi Health and Safety Act’?

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Spot on
    A very tragic event indeed.
    But so is every murder and death on the road tragic and there is no promise by the Department of Transport to launch a public enquiry into the matter like the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has promised.
    The ANC has and continues to fail every citizen in the country with the exception of every cadre deployed and every tenderpreneur and scoundrel that has profited from ANC maleficence / incompetence etc.
    Voetsek ANC

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