Jacobus Lowie Van Heerden EM

b. ? d. ?

DATE OF EM ACTION: 28/11/1920 Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.

Little is known about the life of miner Jacobus Lowie Van Heerden other than his actions in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia on 28th November 1920.



On the 28th November, 1920, a white man named Goode and two natives descended to the lowest level of the Lonely Mine, Bulawayo, too quickly after the conclusion of some shotfiring operations, and were overcome by carbon monoxide gas. Mr. Van Heerden, who was at the next level, heard groans, and, descending, found the two natives dead and Goode unconscious. After three attempts, during each of which he was partially overcome, Mr. Van Heerden managed to effect Goode’s rescue, himsielf collapsing immediately afterwards.

In his last attempt he was assisted by two natives, one of whom (named Zamane) was affected by the gas and failed to return from the danger zone. The native Miwene thereupon, on his own initiative, though well aware of the effect of the gas on those who had previously entered the level, descended single-handed to the rescue of Zamane, whom he discovered in a state of collapse and carried up a ladder to a place of safety. He then returned and endeavoured to recover the bodies of the other natives, but, failing to do this unaided, he went for assistance, once again returned, and, with the help of others, brought the bodies of the dead natives out.

Both Mr. Van Heerden and the native Mwene knowingly risked their lives to rescue others.