Company apologetic over teen's death

HARARE - One of the brick-moulding companies operating in Dzivaresekwa area were 16-year-old Corridors of Hope Academy student Tinashe Mlambo died while swimming in a disused pit recently, Tiger Bricks, has taken responsibility for the death and joined hands in grief.

Mlambo, a Form 3 student, drowned in a disused pit in the high-density suburb a fortnight back, the latest to be killed in the pond now being dubbed the “pool of death”.

The deep pit has accounted for an increasing number of drowning deaths, with four deaths in the last few years.

Locals blame mermaids for the deaths, and allege authorities are involved in a conspiracy to cover-up the creatures’ existence in the pool, itself a result of brick-moulding activities in the area.

Tiger Bricks chipped in with funeral expenses amounting to about $6 000.

Following last week’s expose, the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) together with the ministry moved in quickly to instruct all the companies in the area to cease operations and comply with the environmental regulations first before any brick-moulding activities resume.

Mike Ndlovu, the human resources manager at Tiger Bricks expressed the company’s heartfelt condolences at the unfortunate incident confirming that despite helping financially with funeral expenses engagements were currently in motion to see how best they can help out the family post-burial.

“We are so sympathetic and really sorry about what happened. It is something that we never expected would happen. We have already sat down with the family to see how best we can engage each other going forward in the wake of the untimely and unfortunate event.

“We cannot however, reveal anything at the moment because it will be premature for us to do so,” Ndlovu told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.

“We forked out about $6 000 to assist with burial. We have been totally affected as you can see our season begins on 1st March and goes on to end of November so since the child died in this pit we completely stopped production to rehabilitate the pits but what is important is life.

“Of course, we were affected but we cannot concede the loss of business when we are mourning the death of a future president, the death of a future brick-moulding company owner, the life lost was greater than anything else.”

The ultimatum to comply or risk losing operating licences has seen workers temporarily being laid off and with the season coming to a close end of next month, employees at Tiger Bricks have accused the company of shedding jobs without notice.

At least 30 employees at Tiger Bricks claim to have been relieved of their duties without benefits allegedly for leaking the story of Mlambo’s death to the media.

“We have been told to stop reporting for work, about 32 of us have been fired because the company is saying we leaked the story to the media,” an employee who requested anonymity said.

“The other thing is the issue of protective clothing, we did not have any protective clothing and the minister ordered that we get them immediately as well as the total closure of the pits. The company is saying it has used a lot of money during and after the burial of the child.”

Ndlovu, however, laughed off the allegations saying employees themselves had requested to be paid their leave in advance adding that they were downplaying the severity of the ultimatum from Ema and the ministry.

“The workers grouped together twice wanting to know when we were going to resume production and we told them that all things being equal we would be resuming production in three weeks’ time and rain will be upon us which means we cannot wait up to such a period.

“They then asked to be given their full leave payment and we danced according to their request. On top of it we agreed that were going to give them an additional allowance of 20 percent considering the situation on the ground,” said Ndlovu.

When the Daily News on Sunday crew visited the scene, graders were busy filling up the pits in compliance with the Ema directive.

“We have covered a lot of ground as you can see and it will not be long before the whole place is completely sealed off, it’s unfortunate we had to do it after the tragic accident but what’s important is to preserve what needs to be preserved, no child or adult deserves to die in this manner,” Ndlovu added.

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