11 June 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is now comparing mining operations of Sibanye-Stillwater to killing fields, after yet another mineworker perished this morning. It is reported that five mineworkers were overcome by gas and heat, and one worker is confirmed dead due these extreme conditions, while the other four workers have yet to be found. AMCU sends its condolences to the loved ones of the fallen worker as well as prayers to the families of the trapped workers. The Union questions why a manager allegedly forced employees to go underground this morning, even though the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) had reportedly issued an order to stop production at the operation in question.

AMCU received reports from its health and safety desk that this morning saw a gassing incident at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof operations close to Westonaria. The shaft in question, Ikamva Shaft, was reportedly visited by the DMR Inspectorate this past Friday (8 June 2018), after which the shaft was ordered to be closed in terms of section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act – for reasons related to excessive temperature and inadequate ventilation. However, it is reported that a Mine Overseer subsequently forced workers to go underground this morning.

This incident, which happened at around 6:00 this morning, has led to the death of at least one worker while four are still missing. This is the sixteenth death of a mineworker at the operations of Sibanye-Stillwater this year.

AMCU sends its condolences to the loved ones of the fallen worker as well as prayers to the families of the trapped workers.

AMCU has made a clarion call for the issue of mine safety to be regarded as a human rights issue. The Union has also called for civil and criminal prosecution of mining bosses who seem to disregard the safety of employees for the sole purpose of maximising profit. AMCU firmly believes that the punishment must fit the contravention. AMCU has also called for a Safety Summit, as well as the intervention of Minister Gwede Mantashe and State President Cyril Ramaphosa. There have been no official responses to these calls.

AMCU finds it very strange that just weeks ago Sibanye-Stillwater was accusing us in the media, of alleged mischief in blaming them for these deaths. Still, this event again proves that people are dying while mining bosses keep on chasing profits. The lives of workers are being compromised for the sake of making more money. Mining bosses still fail to invest in proactive and preventative measures, in an effort to chase maximum profit.

AMCU will for now focus all attention on the rescue efforts. Once the workers have been rescued and the DMR has concluded its enquiry, AMCU will interrogate the reports and comment on the causes of, and solutions to the problems which led to this incident.