AFTER volunteer workers made up of illegal miners commonly known as amakorokoza and a handful of villagers had retrieved the bodies of five miners at Nugget Mine, the officer in charge of Matobo almost kissed goodbye to mother earth as he fell into a 15-metre deep mine shaft.
During his address at the site, officer commanding police in Matabeleland South Commissioner Patson Nyabadza said the officer in charge of Matobo Police Station, Inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu, survived death by a whisker.
All eyes, including those of Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial affairs Abedinico Ncube, senior army officials and police officials, villagers and illegal miners turned to Ndlovu as he was requested to move upfront.
Narrating his near-death experience Inspector Ndlovu who was once deputy spokesperson for Bulawayo Province, said: “I received a report that illegal miners had invaded Nugget Mine. When we checked the crowd had dispersed but one of the villagers informed us that they would pounce in the evening.”
At around 10 pm Ndlovu and his crew had gathered that illegal miners would use any means possible, even killing to get into a gold-rich tunnel. While they were on alert they spotted flashes of light at a distance.
“We saw flashes of cars at a distance approaching. We also saw another group approaching from another direction,”Ndlovu revealed.
“We had divided ourselves into two groups. My group moved stealthily towards the converging groups as we avoided falling into a 20-metre deep mine shaft. We intended to spy on how many they were and see how they were armed and if possible gather what they were saying,” said Ndlovu.
“They were too many and moving in cars while some were travelling in a commuter omnibus and a minibus,”he revealed.
After they had spotted them and gathered enough information they had to swiftly negotiate their way back. On their way back still moving stealthily Insp Ndlovu fell into a 15-metre deep shaft.
“When we were 10 metres before Nugget Mine I lost step and fell into a 15-metre deep mine shaft,”he said.
“I realised that I had stepped into the gaping hole of the shaft with my right leg that carried my weight. There was no way I could swing it back. I had to break my fall into the shaft so I jumped in. In my right hand I was holding a pistol while in my left I was clutching a torch.”
“I could have died if I had accidentally discharged the pistol. I only fractured a left knee and injured an ankle. I’m grateful to God for preserving my life,” he revealed.
He said he was lucky because the advancing illegal miners had set camp before reaching the spot where he had the mishap. Ndlovu said artisanal miners from the community who were working with the police helped him out of the shaft in less than 10 minutes.
“One of the community members Meluleki Mbano said Ndlovu’s deputy Ronald Ncube took charge.
Chief inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the incident: “I can confirm that our member of staff inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu unfortunately fell into a 15-metre deep mine shaft. He was retrieved from the mine by illegal miners and villagers. He suffered minor injuries and was treated at our hospital and discharged.”