The last shift of the Day – the 21st

As part of commemorating the Coalbrook mine disaster of 21st January 1960, we re-publish our article, which was published in the print edition of  Puisano News in March 2012 during the time when the country marked Human Rights Day.

The Coalbrook mine disaster the biggest in South African history and also one of the deadliest in the world.

“We were playing outside that day and suddenly there was a loud noise and the ground was shaking, everyone ran away to their homes including those who were working on top of the mine” said Rasekwane Mokone

On the Day 21st at the Clydesdale colliery mine in Coalbrook, near Sasolburg the Shift of over 400 Miners, went down beneath the ground to perform their daily duty, and they Never Came Back Again.

The Day was the 21st January 1960, when they were all trapped underground as the mine collapsed.

Until this day, none of their families can be able to show any grave where their loved ones are buried, because there were no burial or commemoration of the deceased miners except for a small bronze notice that is placed at the entrance of what today is known as Holly country, just outside Sasolburg.

It is believed that 435- 440 miners lost their lives on that fateful day.

As the country remembered and celebrated Human Rights Day this week (**March 2012), Daniel Rasekwane Mokone, together with Amos Diniswayo both residents at Holy Country has little to celebrate about, as memories took them back to that painful and horrific incident.

Daniel Rasekwane Mokone

Mokone grew up in Clydesdale and was over 4 years when the incident took place. He told of how they were playing outside on the day when suddenly there was a loud bang that shook the place.

According to Amos Diniswayo who has been staying there since 1970, it is important for families who have lost their loved ones in that incident to know the place where theirs souls are, to enable them to visit and perform their rituals there whenever they want.

“It is difficult for us to celebrate the Human Rights Day, there are over 400 human-beings who died painfully here and up to this day, that day of the 21st is completely forgotten and nothing has been done to remember and pay tribute to those fallen souls.” said Diniswayo.

Amos Diniswayo

The wish of both these two men who have also worked at that mine is to have a Monument built where the incident took place as a sign of remembrance and respect. Most of the deceased are believed to be from neighbouring countries of Lesotho and Mozambique.

***Kindly note the interviews were done in March 2012 at the time of the publication of this article in print edition of Puisano News