Boksburg gas leak: Zama Zamas say goodbye to one

Boksburg gas leak: Zama Zamas say goodbye to one

  • Zama Zmas bids farewell to a man who is described as their colleague.
  • A group gathered outside Syfred Sebyenghis home and later accompanied his body as he left the Angelo slum in Boksburg.
  • Siping died last week while trying to save neighbors after inhaling toxic gas.

A group of illegal miners in Boksburg are saying goodbye to one of them who died after a gas leak last week.

Zama Zamas, as the illegal miners are known, gathered on a gravel soccer field in the Angelou slum, where the body of Seyfried Sibbing, 56, arrived in a white heart on Tuesday.

The caravan then stopped at the spot where Siping died on the night of 6 July, where a ritual was held to “gather his soul” to be taken to his final resting place in Bochum, Limpopo.

At his home, more rituals are being performed due to the noise of nearby illegal mining machines.

Most backyards in which the final processing of precious metals by illegal miners took place were covered with plastic sheeting to prevent people from seeing what was happening on the property.

The illegal miners quietly sang hymns and walked behind the mire as they left the settlement before returning to their “factories”—the word locals use to describe the backyard sites where the final processing of gold takes place.

Read | I Saw ‘People Falling Like Flies’: The man remembers the night he lost his brothers during the Boksburg gas leak

“He was working with them. They loved him. They promised his family that they would help bury him. They are here to say goodbye,” one resident told News24.

Why would the Zama-Zamas stop their instruments and sing to him? He was one of them.

After serving, the illegal miners went back to “work”.

Young men were seen heading to a nearby gas station carrying plastic containers to buy fuel to power their machines.

Sipping’s cousin, Chibi Manaka, said he died when trying to save his neighbors from the poison gas that claimed 17 lives, including his own in the end.

Manaka said:

Sibbing was with his relatives before the accident. He gave up trying to save his neighbors. They were sitting around a bonfire when he heard a cry for help. rushed to help. Unfortunately, he too died.

I saw his dead body lying on the ground [the] street. I saw blood oozing out [neighbours’] “Noses and mouths,” Manaka added.

He and his friend, Samuel Malaza, extinguish a leaking gas canister in a house where gold is being processed.

Sipping’s sister, Juliet Manaka, said his death shocked them.

Juliet added, “He was not sick. He was a healthy man who loved jokes. He was our family’s entertainer. We are here to say goodbye. We loved him so much.”

Read | Boksburg Gas Leak: I wanted to save them all. I couldn’t, says the man who risked his life to save the victims

Relative Colin Sipping said: “We are hurting. We can’t say it was time for him to die. We want to know why he died. He was there to help people. We will never forget him. We will never forget this incident.”

DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga visited the area to speak to the bereaved families.

Four of the 16 victims were Zimbabweans and 12 were Mozambicans.

Msimanga said illegal mining poses a threat to the country.

“The illegal miners are back, and another disaster could happen in time. There is big economics around the mining industry. We need to regulate small scale mining. Tanzania is doing it successfully.”

Some of the confiscated gas canisters where 17 people were killed in the Angelo informal settlement.

“We have been promised that there will be police action on illegal mining in the area.

“Our police are not equipped to deal with illegal miners, including tracking them underground,” he added.

“We live in an unfortunate situation as 70% of the population lives here [at the Angelo informal settlement] They are not South African.

“We can’t give them permanent positions and residences. We need to look at border control issues. How do we avoid illegal immigration happening in our country?”

“We can’t just respond when people are already here, and such disasters happen. It’s a vicious cycle. The police were promised, and they’re not here. This has to be taken seriously.”

Under siege

During his visit to the region, Gauteng Chief Minister Banyaza Lesovi said the province was under the victories from illegal mining.

“We are using outdated law enforcement mechanisms in a new area that needs new forms of enforcement. We must reform our law enforcement response.

“Illegal mining is out of control,” Lesovy said. “We need a specialized way to train our specialized law enforcement agencies.”

He added that the government must confront illegal mining head-on.


Forensic officials prepare to load several bodies into a mortuary after a gas leak in the Boksburg area.

“I advocate for an entirely new strategy to counter illegal mining.”

Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mwela said the squatter settlement was used as a gold processing area by illegal miners.

Mwila added that Zama Zamas processed the material in their homes.

Residents declared that the deadly gas that killed 17 people last week smelt of stench Rotten eggs.

The police later raided the houses and confiscated gas canisters known as Phendukas as well as machinery used to process the gold.

The packaging that caused the deaths has been diverted to remorseful With a cut in the middle, a steel ball is placed inside to grind the gold-bearing soil.

The majority of phendukas are powered by either generators or illegal electricity.

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