Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) chairperson Patrice Motsepe and Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (Ledet) MEC Seaparo Sekoati last Thursday visited six mineworkers at Netcare Pholoso Hospital in the city where they are being treated for injuries sustained when the bus they were travelling in was set alight by a petrol bomb thrown into the vehicle at Driekop outside Burgersfort last Monday evening.
The entourage visited the patients after meeting with Modikwa Platinum Mine management, the Burgersfort community and victims who were discharged from hospital. Reportedly one of the six victims was in stable condition and being treated in a high care ward while the other five were recovering well in ordinary wards.
Modikwa Platinum Mine Safety Health Environment and Quality leader, Amukelani Modau emphasised that the visit was intended to give the victims and the mine support and comfort. She said the mine and Police have put safety measures in place to avoid the same incident from happening again. Although Modau did not want to reveal the budget set aside to support affected employees and families of the six who burnt beyond recognition, she stated that the victims get financial support from both the mine and Government.
She said 51 mineworkers, including the six deceased, were affected by the gruesome attack. She added that 23 mineworkers had been admitted to Middleburg hospital with minor injuries and discharged the following day. Twenty injured were admitted to Netcare Pholoso Hospital. Two miners had escaped the turmoil with minor injuries, were treated at the mine’s clinic and later discharged.
According to Modau the patient who is treated in the high care ward had inhaled a large quantity of smoke and therefore needed more attention. “We are working closely with the community and Government to ensure that the affected families and employees get the support they deserve. The six deceased will be laid to rest as soon as the forensic process has been completed. We appreciate the support we get and thank the hospital personnel for giving our employees the care they need,” she explained.
Polokwane Observer spoke to three victims who were discharged from Netcare Pholoso and they explained that they had jumped out of the bus hitting the ground with their upper bodies first, explaining the heads and shoulder injuries. One of the survivors, Herman Kgete, 54, said he was sitting at the backseat when the attack ensued, adding that the most affected mineworkers are the ones who were sitting in front.
He further said they were awakened by the smoke and fire inside the bus that is when they decided to jump out. Kgete explained that those who survived the turmoil were now afraid to travel by bus and added that the Police should escort mineworkers to and from work every day to ensure their safety. He concluded by saying the affected mineworkers had not yet returned to work.
Story and photos: ENDY SENYATSI