Sekhukhune residents running scared of virus in mines

With 28 operating mines in the region, many parents said they felt sending their kids to school was not a good idea.

Pupils, parents, teachers and politicians in the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo, where schools are surrounded by mines, were concerned about being infected with the coronavirus as schools reopened on Monday.

Sekhukhune has become the epicentre of coronavirus infections in Limpopo.

After many weeks of zero cases, the district’s cases skyrocketed, superseding Polokwane in Capricorn district, the capital city of the province.

With 28 operating mines in the region, many parents said they felt sending their kids to school was not a good idea.

Speaking during a compliance meeting at Nakgwadi Secondary School in Driekop outside Burgersfort on Monday, executive mayor of Sekhukhune district municipality Keamotseng Stan Ramaila said the situation started changing when the mines started operating again early last month.

He said at the time several mineworkers tested positive for Covid-19, thus putting the lives of other mineworkers and members of the community at risk.

At Marula Platinum Mine, in Driekop outside Burgersfort, 13 mineworkers tested positive for Covid-19 on the first day the mines were reopened. On Monday, the region had the highest number of cases at 119.

“We are aware our children here come from families whose parents and siblings work in the mines. We are also aware that some of our children and teachers could have friends working in the mines.

“If we all use precautionary measures as articulated by the health department and our government, under the tutelage of President Cyril Ramaphosa, we can beat Covid-19,” Ramaila told teachers, politicians and members of the royal council at the school.

The school is surrounded by Marula Platinum, Modikwa Platinum and Twickenham Platinum mines.

“I am delighted to be here today, exactly 80 days since schools closed on 20 March because of lockdown.

“It feels like the first day of school in January. The only difference is that today there are no kisses, no high-fives, no hugs and no touching because we fear for our lives,” said Mariam Mosoma, a Grade 12 pupil at the school.

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha said he and his Cabinet were ready to assist at any time.

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