DAMUCHUJENAA: The president of Botswana Mine Workers Union has warned that accident-prone BCL mine could collapse, a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Addressing emotional mourners at a funeral of one of the accident victims in Damuchujenaa, Jack Tlhagale said the recent accidents at BCL are a clear indication that the whole mine will one day collapse, urging action to be taken before its too late.
“There is need for us to introspect on what needs to be done to avert similar occurrences in the future. It is even more hurtful that the accident happened immediately after another mine accident victim was buried last week,” he said.
The funeral of one of the three victims of the BCL mine accident at Selebi Shaft, Tebogo Josaya brought a glimpse into the bad state of affairs between BCL employees and the management.
A sombre and pensive mood characterised the faces of the employees, who sat in a marquee tent awaiting the remains to arrive in the yard.
Employees came short of clapping hands when Tlhagale took to the podium.
Earlier on, the mine employees had seemed unimpressed and uninterested when it was announced that the mine’s managing director Daniel Mahupela was among the mourners who had come to pay their last respects.
The union president said it was high time employees united and challenged government and the mine management because things were not right at the mine.
He further said that the union strongly condemns government on the shroud of secrecy around the reports on the fatal accidents at the mine, adding that they are never availed to the unions.
“We know that the findings of the investigations will not be availed to us and it is regrettable that BCL management stands here to show that they are deeply concerned with the fatal accidents but does nothing,” he said.
Tlhagale also said this indicates that the whole mine is on the brink of collapse.
“We must stand up as workers. It is even more regrettable that government never takes necessary action against the mine leadership under these circumstances, but instead they are showered with promotions,” he said.
The statement was met with murmurs of support from aggrieved employees, who also defied the suggestions to conduct the burial in haste so as to attend another one in Tumasera village.
The shaft has been closed indefinitely.
Not only did the emotional distress engulf BCL employees.
The magnitudes of people who thronged the midweek funeral also seemed to demand answers as to what could have transpired.
Adding salt to injury was the fact that the remains of the 29-year-old Josaya which were in a bad state, could not be viewed and had to be buried immediately after arrival from Nyangabwe Referral Hospital where a post mortem was conducted.
Josaya’s body was the last to be retrieved from the mine, two days after the accident.
BCL mine divisional manager of organisational capabilities Motsile Sibanda said the deceased started working at BCL in January 2007 as a workman and due to his commitment and hard work, was trained as a machine man until he acquired a blasting license.
He was promoted at a young age to the position of miner in charge.
“We bring our heartfelt condolences to the family. We are equally deeply disturbed by the loss,’ said Sibanda.
Tebogo was the firstborn child in a family of two siblings and is survived by his mother, younger sister, a daughter and a fiancée.
The other two victims were also buried yesterday morning in Mahalapye and Tumasera.