A former employee at Kayelekera Uranium Mine, who medical reports indicate that he lost sight because of exposure to radiation, says his former employer Mota Engil has been pestering him to take him to hospital since the story of his plight came out.

However, the victim – Abraham Siliwonde – says he has refused the offer opting for legal redress through the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) from whom he sought support.

Mota Engil is among the many sub-contractors at the mine run by Australian mining giant, Paladin.

Siliwonde’s story was published in our sister paper, The Sunday Times, on May 19 and led to calls by some parliamentarians that government investigates the conditions at the mine.

“Led by the Human Resources Manager at the mine Owen Thuluwa, Mota Engil has been coming asking to take me to hospital. I have been referring them to CHRR,” said Siliwonde.

He said the two parties met CHRR district coordinator for Karonga Gracian Mbewe on Monday morning. Mbewe confirmed the meeting but said he forwarded Thuluwa to Project Officer Luke Tembo who is handling the matter at CHRR.

Tembo confirmed speaking to Thuluwa but said he maintained the stance taken by Siliwonde. Despite Siliwonde, Mbewe and Tembo corroborating dealing with Thuluwa, the latter said in an interview that he had no information on what the three said.

“I don’t know anything about that. I have no information and I don’t have any idea about that,” he said.

Siliwonde said he started work with Mota Engil as ground labourer
Partner in July 2010. In February 2011 he was moved to spotting where he managed dumpers carrying high grade uranium ore.

He said in January 2012, he was drafted in driving the dumpers but had lost sight by July 2012. He said he later learnt of his laying off on returning from Mzuzu Central Hospital to which he was referred by the Karonga District Hospital in November 2012.

According to medical documents, some of which are in our possession, the development means Siliwonde was laid off before the cause of his situation was determined.

That Siliwonde’s loss of sight is a result of exposure to radiation is contained in a report signed on April 15 2013 by Dr J. Msosa, Chief Ophthalmologist at Lions Sight First Eye Hospital at Kamuzu Central Hospital. – By Karen Msiska

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