You need to go down with a shovel and dig him out, Zama Zamas tell rescue team

2017-03-01 15:09
A rescue worker descending into the mine shaft where a 5-year-old boy went missing. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

A rescue worker descending into the mine shaft where a 5-year-old boy went missing. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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WATCH: Zama-zamas convinced Thole boy (5) is buried under sand

2017-03-01 14:30

Heavy rock falls have delayed efforts to rescue 5-year-old Richard Thole from a disused mine shaft in the Jerusalem informal settlement, Boksburg. One local miner says Emergency Services lack the practical mining experience. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg  - Zama zamas in the Jerusalem informal settlement on Wednesday said the Mines Rescue Team must provide them with equipment to rescue Richard Thole.

"They were taught books and not practical. I keep telling them, I might not have papers, but I was trained the same way as them, but I did it in practical [sic]," Endurance Kazembe said.

The 34-year-old said he just needed three or four other zama zamas, or illegal miners, to go underground with him.

Kazembe moved to South Africa from Zimbabwe in 2006. He claimed he had 16 years mining experience.

"They didn't listen to us when we told them not to send anyone down, because there is no oxygen down there," Kazembe said.

On Wednesday morning, heavy rock falls delayed efforts to rescue five-year-old Richard from the disused mine shaft.

Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services spokesperson William Ntladi said they had worked throughout the night to remove loose soil around the shaft entrance with an excavator, when the rock falls happened. A camera would be used to try and determine the size of the rocks.

"We are already working in a confined space, and now if those rocks are falling in that very same confined space, that tells us that it is going to be far more difficult to operate."

Thole fell into the shaft on Saturday afternoon. Since then, people had been gathering under a tree near the shaft entrance, hoping for news.

"This is a simple thing. It is a vertical shaft. The child is covered with sand. You need to go down with a shovel and dig him out," Kazembe said.

He said Richard was likely not far from the surface.

Kazembe said the family would not find peace until the body had been retrieved.

"How can you bury someone without a body? You can't even have a funeral."

When asked if it was dangerous going underground, he laughed and said: "It's not dangerous, there is gold down there."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents  |  mining

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