1972 mine disaster victims remembered

Zimbabwe listed coal Miner Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) on Tuesday commemorated the 45th annual Kamandama disaster, amid assurance by the company’s board that safety and health were top of priority. In 1972, 427 mine works perished following a mine explosion that occurred in two stanzas.

More than three quarters of the victims were foreigners from neighbouring Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Namibia. Since the day of the explosion, HCCL has organized commemorations which are punctuated by a two day event comprising a golf tournament and the main event day on June 6.

The struggling company which has over the years been failing to pay its workers owing to low production levels, seeks to raise funds through the golf tourney for the welfare of the widows of the disaster, termed Kamandama after the name of the shaft where the unfortunate accident occurred.

The commemorations are held annually at the site of the blast, which was turned into a monument in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

“The initial explosion was caused by methane gas followed by a cold dust explosion. Over a third of victims were from neighbouring Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana but as a company we have put in safety measures to ensure safety is promoted,” said HCCL board chair Winston Chitando while officially opening the event on Tuesday.

It was in the morning on June 6 when the explosion occurred. Workers died after a methane gas blast ripped through a shaft trapping them inside.
The explosion remains the country’s worst mine. Widows and children of the victims have over the years complained that they were being neglected by the company.
Government owns the majority of shares with business tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten owning 30 percent shares.