Paladin’s Kayelekera Mine’s sacked Malawian employee dies

A former employee for Paladin (Africa) Limited working at Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga district, who was sacked while on sickbed at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital after getting injured while on duty, has died.

A family member confirmed Francis Mkonda died last week Wednesday, September 11, at Mzuzu Central Hospital after failing to win the battle against cancer.

“He died last week Wednesday and burial was at home in Chitipa,” confirmed the family member.

Paladin fired Mkonda seven days later, January 24, after his injury while still on sickbed in Karonga.

Mkonda: No more

Mkonda: No more

On April 11, he was referred to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre where magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) conducted on him revealed that even his left thigh was also fractured.

Initially, it was only his right leg which was known to suffered a fractured thigh bone and required amputation.

He was further referred to Mwaiwathu before being chased out by Paladin officials days later and shifted to his home in Chitipa for admission to the district hospital despite his condition still being critical following the amputation of his right leg.

The deceased collapsed while working at Kayerekera Mine as Processor Operator on 17th January.

He was fired on 24th January 2013 while still in hospital where he was admitted after he developed swollen legs as a result of Uranium radiation.

The company fired him under the pretext that it was confronted with “continued financial difficulties” and could not continue paying for his huge hospital bills.

Late Mkonda joined Kayelekera Mine on October 23, 2010 reportedly with no case of painful legs and only started feeling leg pains in 2012.

And his problem is said to have started because he had been working at the mine’s setting point– where uranium ore is sent through tanks of acid and peroxide to separate it from the other chemicals– in the processing plant.

MRI conducted on his lumbar spine by consultant radiologist Dr Kampondeni on December 28, 2012 left the impression of “diffuse marrow replacement and diffuse spondylosis from L2-3 to L5-S1, with moderate spiral stenosis at L4-5 and irritation of the right L4 nerve root”.

Radiation Safety experts say uranium radiation has potential to cause cancers because it is ionising, meaning it strips away particles.

But Paladin officials have maintained radiation doses workers at the mine are exposed to are far much lower than international recommendations and also dispelled suggestions that Mkonda’s situation was a result of exposure to radioactive substances.

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