THREE gold panners suffocated to death yesterday after they had entered a mine shaft while prospecting for gold ore in Mazowe.
The three and their other six colleagues were affected by underground gases.
The six colleagues managed to escape but four of them have since been admitted at Concession Hospital after being affected by the gas.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident.
“The ZRP reports the death of three people at SOS, Jumbo Mine in Mazowe on March 9, 2022. The victims together with six other illegal miners entered a mine shaft in a bid to prospect for gold ore.
“The trio suffocated to death due to underground gases while six others managed to escape. Meanwhile, four of the survivors who escaped were taken to Concession Hospital after being affected by the gas,” he said.
This is not the first time that gold panners have either suffocated to death or killed after the mine shaft they will be working in collapsed.
In 2019, a female gold panner from Guyu in Matabeleland South Province died on the spot while her colleague escaped unharmed when a shaft they were working in at the bank of Mlalakgomo River collapsed, trapping her.
Police said the deceased Sithembiso Sibanda (44) and her neighbour Sandiso Sibanda (31) both of Gobathema village in Guyu went to prospect for gold in a shaft.
After working for some hours inside the shaft, the duo started filling gold ore into empty bags of cement.
Police said Sandiso then took the bags outside the shaft to another point leaving her colleague underground. When she returned, she discovered that the shaft had collapsed, trapping her colleague inside and she died.
The woman managed to retrieve the body.
Another five illegal artisanal miners were trapped and died after the gold shaft they were working in collapsed at Elvingston Mine near Chegutu in Mashonaland West Province.
In a similar case, another panner was trapped by rubble when a shaft he was operating from collapsed at Montekai mining site near Sabi Mine in Zvishavane. His body was retrieved three days later.