HARARE – First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa on Thursday toured Battlefields, near Kadoma, where 24 illegal miners are confirmed dead and at least four others are presumed dead underground after floods swept in on February 5.
Mnangagwa, accompanied by Environment Minister Prisca Mupfumira and her Mines counterpart Winston Chitando, commiserated with families of the young men killed in one of the country’s worst mining disasters.
Rescue efforts have been scaled back since eight miners were pulled out alive after five days, followed by the discovery of the 24 bodies.
Work continues, however, on a second shaft where water is being pumped out before rescuers can go in to recover the bodies of the four miners believed to be trapped at a depth of about 100 meters.
The First Lady gave away groceries to families of the affected miners, and the valiant rescuers who braved tough conditions to haul their colleagues to safety as the government was being criticised for its slow response to the crisis.
Ministers have promised new legislation that will legalise the operations of artisanal miners and also seek to regulate their activities. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which had recommended the sealing of the Battlefields shafts just weeks before the tragedy, will be given new teeth to enforce its recommendations.