NEWS
02/02/2018 10:24 SAST | Updated 02/02/2018 10:24 SAST

All The Trapped Sibanye Mine Workers Have All Been Resurfaced

The mine workers were rescued at around 6.30am on Friday, says spokesperson.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

The National Union of Mineworkers confirmed on Friday morning that all 955 Sibanye Gold mine workers who were trapped underground have been resurfaced.

"The mine workers were rescued at around 06:30 this morning," the union's national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu confirmed to News24.

"They are currently getting medical check-ups. No injuries were sustained - they are just exhausted."

A meeting was set to be held later at the mine's training centre with management after all the workers had been attended to medically.

Sibanye Gold spokesperson James Wellsted also confirmed that the miners had been brought to the surface and that there were no serious injuries.

"There were some people with dehydration and few cases of high blood pressure and 16 of our older employees needed drips - but everything was successful.

"We are providing counselling for them and their families where it's necessary," Wellsted told News24.

Storm

The miners were trapped underground at their Beatrix mine unit following an electric cable outage after a storm on Wednesday night. The mine worked around the clock to restore the power supply in order to rescue them.

"[They have been trapped for quite some time now and [are] quite fatigued, but they are in an area that is ventilated," Wellsted said on Thursday evening.

He added that they had been in constant contact with the miners, who had access to food and water and were in no danger.

During the course of Thursday, the mine had managed to rescue 272 miners from shaft four and 64 from shaft one. This excluded the 955 miners that were still underground.

At 02:30 on Friday morning power was restored and just after 05:00 the majority of the miners had been rescued, with only seven still needing to be resurfaced, Wellsted said.

By 06:30, all 955 were back above ground.

Anxious family members

Sibanye Gold Beatrix mine, which is about 30km away from Welkom, is located on the R30 road in Theunissen in the Free State.

Family members and friends of the miners began gathering outside the mine after hearing news that their loved ones were trapped underground.

One of them was Patience Ntswayi, whose husband was working the night shift on Wednesday night. When he did not return home on Thursday morning, she became worried.

"He would normally come back at 06:00 in the morning," she said.

"I tried to call him throughout the day and when I was at work I rushed home to see if he was home sleeping but I could not find him."

Covered in a blanket and patiently waiting outside the mine on Thursday night, a visibly shaken Ntswayi said she was in the dark about her husband's situation.

"We don't know what is happening and [what] we heard is that they are safe and they were given water. I am so frustrated."

She had left their two children, aged 15 and three, at home to rush to the mine.

Families were forced to sit outside the mine, patiently waiting to be updated about their loved ones after security officials barred them and the media from entering the gate.

Ntshwayi was not the only family member who was alerted by the news that their loved ones were trapped.

Concern

Siyabonga Sikade who is part of the Free State ANC youth league's provincial executive committee (PEC) said he also found out from news reports that his uncle who was on nightshift was trapped in the mine.

"We are concerned and nobody said anything to our families. They were all quiet and we heard from the 20:00 news," Sikade said while sitting outside.

His uncle has been working for the mine for more than 30 years.

"People that were supposed to have been at their homes by 06:00 are still trapped - nobody is sure... whether they are eating or drinking."

Sikade said he was confident that his uncle would come out unharmed.

He said his brother and father who are also employed by the mine were "lucky" that they were working day shift on Wednesday.

News24