Vaal Reef Trust to mark mine disaster

MASERU — The Vaal Reef Disaster Trust will next Tuesday mark the 14th anniversary of the Vaal Reef Mine disaster which claimed the lives of 104 mine workers including 56 Basotho.

The accident at the mine, about 100km south-west of Johannesburg, was ranked among the worst mining disasters in South Africa.

The trust was set up in 1995 by the National Union of Mineworkers and Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Limited to improve the welfare of surviving dependents.

In a statement released to the media the Trust said it will also hold its 10th annual general meeting at Lakeside Hotel in the capital Maseru to concide with the anniversary.

The Trust said the disaster at one of South Africa’s biggest gold mines changed the mining industry in South Africa.

Following the disaster the National Union of Mineworkers urged the South African government to investigate the cause of mine accidents.

This led to the setting up of the Leon Commission, whose recommendations led to the promulgation of the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1997.

The Act enshrined four basic rights for workers.

These include the right to be trained on health and safety issues, the right to representation, the right to information on safety and health standards and the right to refuse to do dangerous work.

The statement said following the enactment of the law “mineworkers’ lives were no longer treated as clinical statistics but black mine workers became respected as human beings, husbands with families and social responsibilities.” 

For the past 14 years the Trust has assisted the dependents with career development of children and widows of victims of the 1995 disaster scattered across the southern Africa region. 

“I can only salute the coura-ge of those dependents, who took the challenge of acquiring skills they needed to earn the living. 

“I always say to the widows and children you cannot forget this tragedy but remember it with pride.

“I feel fulfilled in that while we cannot bring back those lives, we have managed to secure the future for the widows and children left behind,” said Collyn Manzana, the Principal Officer of the Vaal Reef Disaster Trust.

The Principal Secretary, in the Ministry Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, Makalo Theko, is expected to address the meeting

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