A female gold panner from Guyu in Matabeleland South Province died on the spot while her colleague escaped unharmed when a shaft they were working in at the bank of Mlalakgomo River collapsed, trapping her.
Police said the deceased Sithembiso Sibanda (44) and her neighbour Sandiso Sibanda (31) both of Gobathema village in Guyu went to prospect for gold in a shaft on Wednesday.
After working for some hours inside the shaft, the duo started filling gold ore into empty bags of cement.
Police said Sandiso then took the bags outside the shaft to another point leaving her colleague underground. When she returned, she discovered that the shaft had collapsed, trapping her colleague inside and she died. The woman managed to retrieve the body.
A police report was made and the body was taken to Gwanda District Hospital for postmortem. Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena confirmed the tragic incident. She warned people against extracting gold without a licence as they put their lives at risk.
“We urge members of the public to stop illegal panning especially during this rainy season as this puts human life at risk,” said Insp Mangena.
Late last month, five illegal artisanal miners were trapped and died after the gold shaft they were working in collapsed at Elvingston Mine near Chegutu in Mashonaland West Province.
In a similar case, another panner was trapped by rubble when a shaft he was operating from collapsed at Montekai mining site near Sabi Mine in Zvishavane. His body was retrieved three days later.