Friday, September 22, 2023

Dead miner warned Debswana about accident that killed him

Debswana employee, Montshwari Raseiteo warned management about the mine slope instability six days before the rock slide that killed him in the 2012 Jwaneng fatal mine accident. His last known entry in the mine foreman’s logbook was, “beware of falling rocks” made on July 23rd six days before the fatal rock slide on July 29th.

An investigation by the Department of Mines which turned up negligence by the mine management also revealed that had the foreman examined Raseiteo’s entry and taken action, the accident would have been avoided. Investigators believe Raseiteo’s entry was a warning against the rockslide in the area that later collapsed and caused the accident that killed him. The family of the miner who died after being trapped under debris of rocks following the slope failure say they do not have money to sue Debswana.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, the brother to the late Raseiteo, Thabo Raseiteo said that the family has been furnished with a report compiled by Department of Mines which shows that the mine was liable for the death but said they could not do anything because they are broke.”

Beside proceeds from his insurance policy, the family has not received any compensation for Montshwari’s death. “We do not have money to pay lawyers, we can’t do anything; we got whatever they gave us. You know how big Debswana is, anyone who fight it must have deep pockets,” he said. Raseiteo said they had to take whatever Debswana offered because they prioritised the interests of the deceased children. “mpa e re jesa leswe,” loosely translated meaning a hungry stomach takes whatever is available.

Raseiteo said they engaged the Office of the President (OP) to help them in their talks with Debswana and the office facilitated meetings with the Legal Aid which also assisted in negotiations. He however said what they got was not enough but they did not have any other option. Debswana kicked out Montshwari’s children from their schools in the mine because the company does not have policy that allows for deceased employees children to continue on company schools. The family tried to convince Debswana to let the children continue with the school, arguing that the children must be in the position they were before the death of their father which was caused by Debswana negligence.

However after a lot of resistance by Debswana they ended up abandoning the negotiations. A report compiled by Department of Mines paints negligence conduct on Debswana senior managers that led to the fatal accident. The report shows clear contravention of Mines, Quarries, Works and Machinery Regulations. The report says that if all managers at the site had diligently done their duties; the accident could have been avoided. Effort to contact Debswana Group Manager (Public and Corporate Affairs), Esther Kanaimba- Senai were unsuccessful at the time of going to press. She had not replied to a questionnaire sent to her office.


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