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Durban - Half an hour before construction worker Vusi Nombika died, he allegedly voiced concerns to his manager about safety at the building site, according to a fellow worker.
Nombika, 27, of Folweni, was buried alive last week when a sandbank collapsed while he was digging a trench at a building site of the New Covenant Church in Redhill.
Another worker, Nana Ngubane, was injured in the fall. He is said to be in a stable condition in hospital.
His brother and co-worker, Vincent Ngubane, said Nombika had been worried about the possibility of a collapse. He said Nombika warned the manager about the dangers of digging the trench without proper safety measures in place.
“He told the manager he was afraid that the sand might fall on to him. But the manager told him to stop worrying and continue working.”
Moments later, Ngubane heard the other workers shouting.
“I turned to see what was happening. I couldn’t see Vusi. I then realised he was buried under the sand that had collapsed on him.”
He said they started digging where the men had been buried and managed to pull his brother to safety. By the time they got to Nombika, he was already dead.
Ngubane said they were working without signed contracts and had no safety gear - hard hats or rubber boots.
He claimed that after the accident, the construction company had tried to get them to sign employee contracts, but the workers had refused.
The company manager did not respond to repeated phone calls from the Daily News.
Nombika’s aunt, Mantombi, said she was devastated by her nephew’s death.
She added that he was the breadwinner in the family.
“He was a lively character filled with humility. He took care of us. He would buy us groceries every Friday.”
She said Vusi had no children and had been an orphan.
“Someone from the company came to see us. They said they would take care of the funeral arrangements and they gave us R1 000,” she said.
Labour Department spokesman, Nhlanhla Khumalo, said work at the site had been halted pending an investigation.
A written notice had been issued to the company, he said.
Khumalo said the department was doing all it could to ensure a safe environment for all workers.
“But this is a difficult task because some employers are negligent and others are ignorant.
“This is what leads to injuries and fatalities,” he said.