The mother of one of the six mineworkers who died underground at Phalabora Copper Mine on Saturday has labelled the mine management “a bunch of liars”.
Shawn Mashego’s mother, Kedibone, says the mine management told the family that Mashego had suffocated to death when a fire engulfed their shaft. She said the management visited her Namakgale home on Monday and “lied” about how her son had died.
“But that wasn’t the case,” says Kedibone. “When I went to the mortuary during the postmortem, Shawn’s body and face were burnt beyond recognition.
“He had suffered third-degree burns that showed beyond any shadow of doubt that he did not die due to suffocation from smoke, but burnt to death,” she sobbed while relating the story to The Citizen yesterday.
“This raises questions about the safety of employees at the mine. If they can lie about circumstances surrounding the miners’ death, then they can fabricate the whole thing just to make them go scot-free,” Kedibone added. “We want to know what exactly happened. We want to know if proper safety measures were put in place.
“We also want to know if the shaft has or does not have a rescue room to run to, in case there is an accident such as this one.”
Kedibone said Shawn, her last-born child, was the family’s breadwinner.
“I am a single unemployed mother … He had worked at the mine for over three and a half years. Now that his life was cut short, my family and I will swim in a pool of poverty.”
The only thing she could do now was to give him a good send-off.
Shawn was a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the Mopani region.
The EFF’s Pontsho Mashumu, said about 500 people would barricade the gates leading to the mine today in protest against alleged poor safety at the mine in Phalaborwa.
“We are carrying coffins every weekend,” said Mashumu. “Cemeteries are like recreational centres every Saturday because our mines only care about how much profit they make.”
Government is concerned about the number of mining deaths.