Three illegal gold panners died last Friday after a mine shaft in which they were searching for gold ore collapsed at Lowdale Farm in Mashonaland Central Province. The body of one of the panners, Nickson Kapangura, was retrieved on Sunday night, while searches were still ongoing to retrieve those of David Kanyati and Aaron Musakambeva. All the three panners are believed to be from Banket and usually went to the farm in search of gold.
Kapangura’s body was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital mortuary for post- mortem. The incident occurred at around 4pm last Friday at an area known as KwaGada at Lowdale Farm. Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident.
“Three illegal gold panners were trapped after an illegal mine shaft they were working in collapsed,” she said. “(The body of) one of the panners has since been retrieved, while the other two are still trapped in the mine shaft.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said while the panners were searching for gold, the ground gave in following heavy rains, resulting in them being trapped. “We would like to urge members of the public to desist from such activities as they will be risking their lives,” she said.
“They should also regularise their operations and desist from conducting unlawful operations.” Snr Asst Comm Charamba warned illegal gold panners that the law will descend on them if they continued with their illegal operations.
A visit to the farm yesterday revealed that some of the panners were continuing with their operations, while others were busy trying to retrieve the bodies of the other two panners. They had by yesterday afternoon retrieved two cellphones, clothes and shoes from the mine shaft and had not located the bodies.
One of the panners, Brighton Smart, said they managed to retrieve Kapangura’s body on Sunday at around 9pm. “We are still failing to locate the other two bodies since there are two tunnels underground and there is also a lot of mud that has covered them,” he said.
Another panner, Rodgermore Manjonjo, said when the trio got underground last Friday, it started raining resulting in the mine shaft collapsing. Police last week addressed some of the gold panners and urged them to desist from such dangerous activities, but they did not take heed.
The gold panners reportedly told the police that it was their job and accidents could not stop them, inasmuch as motorists continued to drive on the roads despite lives being lost to accidents.