Johannesburg - An accident that killed five miners at
Goldfield's Driefontein mine should not have happened, Deputy Mineral Resources
Minister Godfrey Oliphant said on Tuesday.
"This accident, amongst others, is one accident that
was not supposed to have happened," Oliphant said at a memorial service
for the five workers on the West Rand.
"We expect heads to roll if any negligence has been
found on the part of any person."
The five miners died in the number four shaft (Ya-Rona)
after a fire broke out in the mine on June 30. Fourteen miners were
hospitalised. An investigation into the cause of the accident was underway.
Oliphant said ten Gold Fields workers had lost their lives
this year under the company's watch, with its Driefontein mine being the
"Now is the time that mine executives take
responsibility for what is happening in their organisations, in respect of
health and safety of mine workers."
The mining industry recorded its lowest number of deaths
ever in April, but the recent accident was a serious regression regarding miner
safety and health, he said.
Overall, 63 mine deaths had been recorded across the sector
Gold mines accounted for 27 deaths, platinum mines 21, coal
mines seven, and other mining operations eight.
Oliphant said it was regrettable that most deaths were in
gold and platinum mines, since it was expected such mines would have proper
health and safety measures in place.
"The question... in my mind is whether the mining
industry is genuinely committed, beyond various statements that they have been
made, (to) improving health and safety of mine workers.
"In a country where a better life for all has been
promised, we cannot continue robbing family members of their loved ones."