Families of killed Ibex Hill workers cry foul


FAMILIES of five workers who were buried alive in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill area last year have not been compensated 11 months after the tragic deaths.
The families – some whom have threatened legal action – said they had been greeted with unfulfilled promises every time they approached the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB).
Asafu Phiri, Warren Mumba, Kangwa Mulonga, Gift Chileshe and Vincent Musenga died when earth collapsed on them while working for SBCC Construction Company, a firm engaged to dig a sewer line in the area.
The three-metre deep sewer line gave in when the workers were down digging, and a combined rescue team took more than a day to retrieve their bodies.
It is believed that the company was not registered with the compensation board and WCFCB was forced to apply sanctions against the construction firm before registering it.
However, despite the registering of the firm, the next of kin of the victims have lived on promises with others contemplating seeking legal redress.
Ilaki Daka, who is representing Asafu Phiri, said he was consulting his lawyers to help him pursue the matter.
“I am just coming from their (WCFCB’s) offices and the person I found told me that maybe I can get the money in November,” Mr Daka said. “But that is a very long time and I have asked the lawyer to write to them over this issue.”
Regina Naneya, who is representing Wallen Mumba – a father of two – said in separate interview that several trips to the Board had not yielded any tangible results.
Naneya said she had been told that the officer who had been dealing with her case at the WCFCB died, a situation which had delayed the process of the families getting their compensation.
“First they told us that the delay was because of the officer who died but now they are telling us that we need to look for the mother of the two children that Mumba left,” she said.
Collins Kafwembe, representing Gift Chileshe and Kangwa Mulonga, said the bureaucracy involved raised questions on whether the families would receive their money.
“It is very disappointing because we have spent a lot in following up the matter but it is like we are not making progress,” Mr Kafwembe said. “We have kept quiet for a long time because we believed they would give us soon, but nothing is coming forth.”
However, WCFCB spokesperson, Maybin Nkolomba said the Board had already approved the compensation for all the families and their representatives could now go to its office and get the money.
Mr Nkoloma said the delay had been necessitated by the registration of the company because SBCC Construction was not registered with the Board at the time of the accident.
“The compensation for all the families has been approved and we are ready to pay the rightful owners,” Mr Nkoloma said. “It must be emphasised that the money must be paid to the right beneficiaries.”