The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) received sad news from its structures at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations at Khuseleka Shaft. According to reports, a worker lost his life due to an accident involving a locomotive. Other details regarding the incident and the worker are still awaited.
“We mourn the death of our comrade”, said AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa. “Our prayers are with his family, loved ones and colleagues during this difficult time”, he said.
This brings to four (4) the number of employees killed at Sibanye-Stillwater operations in 2021. In previous years, AMCU has criticised Sibanye-Stillwater for the high number of fatalities at its operations, often linked to repeatable incidents which could have been avoided.
“We are in the fourth month of the year, and we have lost four comrades at Sibanye’s mines already. That is one comrade per month, which is totally unacceptable”, said Mathunjwa.
Trackless Mobile Machinery (TMM) is one of the major causes of fatal accidents in mining. In 2015, the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE) gave extension to mines to implement a new collision avoidance system to be implemented after five years, which lapsed last year in 2020.
The notion of the collision avoidance system came as a result of the earlier calls by AMCU for such a system, following the spate of mining-related fatalities at Impala Platinum in the period between 2013 and 2015.
“We called for this [collision avoidance] system since 2013”, said Mathunjwa. “But to our disappointment, nothing has happened more than five years along the line”, he said.
The aim of the collision avoidance system was to ensure that machines automatically brake and/or reduce speed in order to avoid killing workers. However, in 2020 the Minerals Council requested another exemption for two (2) years.
“In 2020, Sibanye killed seven employees without consequences and now in 2021 we already stand on four and it is only April”, said Mathunjwa. “We keep on calling for the amendment of the Mine Health and Safety Act to bring accountability to the bosses and also relief to the loved ones of our fallen comrades”, he said.
AMCU has consistently called on the DMRE to amend the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) to hold CEOs accountable for mine fatalities. The Union called for the criminal prosecution of mining bosses who allow workers to be killed through negligence and the narrow pursuit of profit. AMCU also called for an amendment to the MHSA to allow the families of slain mineworkers to claim civil liability from mining houses found to be negligent in situations which lead to the death and maiming of mineworkers.
“Something must be done to avoid these senseless killings. Why is the DMRE which is supposed to be our regulator, so quiet on these issues?” asked Mathunjwa. “The problem with this country is that it is being run by CEOs. They make the rules, and they can do whatever they want. These bosses are untouchable for mere excuses of securing investors’ confidence”, Mathunjwa concluded.
For interviews: President Joseph Mathunjwa