Monday, May 16, 2022

Jwaneng mine accident victim waited for more than 30 hours for help

On the 29th June 2012 around 0030hrs, the pit supervisor was driving ahead of the foreman, 34-year-old Motshwari Raseiteo, when he heard a big bang.

He checked his rear view mirror but all he could see was a cloud of dust. The lighting of the truck Raseiteo was driving was lost in the commission. Concerned about Raseiteo’s safety who was following behind in the truck, the pit supervisor reached for his cellular phone and dialed Raseiteo’s number. There was no response.

It was apparent that Raseiteo had fallen victim to the big bang. A roll call was carried out. It confirmed Raseiteo missing. It was later confirmed that the cause of the big bang was a result of a slope failure from bench 14, which continued to lapse to bench 27. It was further confirmed that the sand which had buried Raseiteo had trapped 15 other miners who were working at bench 28.
Two hours later, at about 0500 hrs, a rescue mission for the fifteen miners trapped at bench 28 commenced. A temporary ramp was made. However, the ramp was too short and an extension in the form of a ladder was proposed. The trapped miners objected to the improvisation and demanded a better ramp which was accordingly granted. The miners were then safely rescued.

The Department of Mines was informed of the accident and a rock engineer from South Africa was also called to carry out investigations. About 12 hours later at around 1500hrs, the mine executive committee and officers of the Department of Mines agreed not to go ahead with the attempt to rescue Raseiteo who was still buried under the rubble. Their reasoning was that any rescue attempts at the time would endanger the lives of the rescue team. The mining inspector at the scene shared the same sentiments.

More than 14 hours later, the mining inspectors changed their minds and directed that the rescue attempts could commence. The change of mind came around 1730hrs.

In the meantime, a counselor had been sent to Raseiteo’s family. At this point Raseiteo was still buried under the rubble. The only assistance offered were prayers for his safety. The rescue team had not yet started searching for him.

An attempt to rescue Raseiteo, i.e. the removal of rubble, commenced the following day, more than 30 hours later at about 0700 hrs. Even then, only one excavator was used and this made very little progress. He was later found after a hovel was brought in to assist, a decision that many believed would have saved Raseiteo’s life had it been resorted to timeously.

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