ZVISHAVANE, ZIMBABWE —
Four Unki Mine workers died on the spot just nine kilometers from the mine after a bus they were traveling in plunged into a river injuring over sixty others.
Eight employees are in a critical condition and have been ferried to Harare for treatment, according to the mine.
Unki Mine general manager Walter Nemasasi told VOA an investigation to determine the cause of the accident is underway.
""I am deeply saddened by this tragic accident involving our employees; I extend my heartfelt condolences to the deceased families. We will work hand in hand with authorities to determine the cause," said Nemasasi.
He said the road accident occurred early Sunday morning around 05:21am along the Gweru-Zvishavane Road. He said 65 employees were being transported by a contract transport company, Scanlink (Private) Limited from Unki Mine to Shurugwi and Gweru when the accident occurred.
Four employees were fatally injured and succumbed to their injuries at the scene of the accident.
National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed the accident, adding investigations were underway to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Nyathi said the bus, which was coming from the mine in Shurugwi, plunged into Mutedekwe River along the Gweru-Zvishavane highway.
According the police, the bus had 72 passengers and 68 were injured with three of them air-lifted to Harare due to the extent of the injuries they sustained.
“As police, we appeal to drivers to take extra caution on the road to avoid such fatalities,” Nyathi said.
He said some of the injured passengers have been admitted at Gweru provincial hospital, Shurugwi general hospital, Claybank hospital in Gweru and Zimasco hospital in Shurugwi.
"The company acknowledges rescue assistance rendered by the local community, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Gweru Fire Brigade and the local hospitals and emergency services," said Nemasasi.
Reacting to the accident, National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe representative Ernest Gumbo blamed Unki Mine for the accident saying employees are being forced to work long hours.
"This accident can be attributed to long working hours," said Gumbo. "Because all platinum mines in Zimbabwe work more than eight hours against the collective bargaining agreement. Employees in platinum mines work ten hours daily and the extra hours worked are not paid for since the beginning of the dollarisation that began in February 2009."
He continued: "So through this Unki accident can the current minister of labour Nicholas Goche find out how many hours these employees work that is at Zimplats, Unki, Todal and Mimosa. It is just the begining and a tip of an iceberg."