Villagers from around SAS Mine, Lowdale, under Mazowe Rural District Council, where two gas explosions killed eight people on Wednesday and Thursday expressed joy following the death of six Chinese nationals who were managers at the site.
The villagers told NewZimbabwe.com that the late Chinese managers were stubborn and very disrespectful and ill-treated locals.
Two of the victims were Zimbabweans and one of them, a 21-year-old man who was the only casualty in the first blast on Wednesday, was burnt beyond recognition.
The government on Friday sealed off the nickel mine pending investigations.
Mazowe South Ward 2 councillor, Tapera Tapererwa said the Chinese managers had been told to halt all operations after the first explosion on Wednesday that claimed the life of a worker.
However, the Chinese miners defied the order and smuggled workers through a broken fence.
They also threatened to take unspecified action against any worker who had raised concerns over their personal safety.
A worker at the mine, Anyway Teru, said the Chinese managers did not show any remorse over the death of the first victim on Wednesday. He said:
The Chinese eventually accepted that there was danger at the mine after the deaths of their own.
After the death of one of our own, they dismissed the matter and demanded that everyone gets back to work despite being told the situation was still dangerous.
They should have given family and colleagues of the dead worker, time to mourn, but because he was not one of them they did not care.
We mourn the death of our colleague, not that of the Chinese. I hope this will make them reconsider some of their decisions.
Shift supervisor Benjamin Hove, one of the workers who declined to report for duty on the fateful day, said ten gas cylinders exploded in the two days as they were leaking. Hove said:
We informed the managers and one of them who is now late told us to simply close the valves and offload the cylinders.
… I indicated to them and my manager just told me to close the caps. Our employers were not doing anything to protect us. We were not even given gloves.
They could not even adhere to procedures after the death of one of us Wednesday. They had been told not to use these cylinders but proceeded to use them Thursday.
The local councillor, Tapererwa said the Chinese managers at one time hid the faulty gas cylinders from Council officials when they visited to investigate the first explosion Wednesday. He said:
They are not doing anything to ensure the safety of employees. They are buying cheap products and putting workers’ lives in danger.
When we came, they told us they had ordered 10 cylinders, but provided three for analysis, they then proceeded to hide others which we had demanded. They did not even have a first aid kit.
I do not dispute that they have no care, but what could be happening is also a case of miscommunication because these people do not speak Shona or English. We are relying on interpreters for communication.