SA miner complained about safety in NZ mine

2010-11-25 00:00

SOUTH African miner Koos Jonker, one of the 29 men killed at the Pike River coal mine, regularly complained about safety at the mine, his son said yesterday, adding that New Zealand mine safety is “years behind” South African standards.

Pierre Jonker, who also lives in New Zealand, said his father, who worked in a South African coal mine for 25 years, pointed out that the mine had only one entrance and exit and no ventilation shaft, which meant there was sometimes not enough oxygen in the mine.

Jonker snr left South Africa four years ago after an incident of crime, and qualified for New Zealand citizenship just days before the first gas explosion last Friday.

His son said his remains will be brought back to South Africa when they are recovered from the mine, so he can be buried on the family farm in Limpopo.

Jonker snr loved woodwork and initially worked as a cabinetmaker in New Zealand, but the recession drove him back to his old trade. He was a fitter and turner in the Pike River mine.

Sapa reports that the ANC and government yesterday expressed “deep sadness” over the accident.

“The ANC extends its heartfelt condolences to family and friends of all those who died in this unfortunate incident,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu

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