The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is mourning the death of three (3) workers at Sasol Mining.  Yesterday afternoon AMCU was called by the union leadership of Sasol’s Irenedale mine outside Secunda in Mpumalanga.  They reported that an unknown number of workers were trapped underground due to a flood of uncontrollable water.  It was later reported that the bodies of three (3) workers who drowned due to the flood, were located.

This morning AMCU’s National Health and Safety Chairperson, Xolani Bokoloshe visited the mine in order to determine what happened.  He met with the mine’s management team who explained that the accident happened at North Section 90, where the crew that was involved was working since 17 October 2021.  

It was confirmed that there was a risk assessment done before the work had commenced.  However, it was also indicated that there is a dam close to the operations which had earlier been identified as a risk, but this risk was mitigated by building a wall around the dam in order to contain the water.  Management claims that initial findings of their investigation indicate that the wall had been tampered with, which ultimately led to the flood and the untimely death of the three workers.  

“Our sincere condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the fallen comrades”, said AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa. “As AMCU we will participate in the processes to follow to ensure that all the facts of this case are brought into the open”, Mathunjwa added.  

At this moment it is also not certain who gave the instruction for these workers to perform their work at that particular location.  All activities at the mine have been stopped for the time being, and the Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr Mthokozisi Zondi is personally in attendance.  An in loco inspection and investigation in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act will follow in due course.

“We welcome the fact that the Department [of Mineral Resources and Energy] has attended to the scene of this horrific accident”, said Mathunjwa.  “Now we await the investigation and other processes to show us who was responsible for this.  This month, October 2021, is becoming the month of death at these mines as we see breadwinners perish almost on a daily basis”, he said.

The month of October 2021 has reached a new record of workers killed by the mining bosses.  Up to today we have seen eight breadwinners lose their lives while trying to make a living, while the whole month of October last year (2020) was at five and 2019 saw four deaths caused by mining.

According to media reports, Sasol made good earnings of R10,5 billion in 2021 to date – up from 2020 when they had some losses.  This was triggered by the rebound in chemical and oil prices as well as its conservation of cash by not paying workers their bonuses and implementing 24-hour operations at some of its sites.

“Until the [Mine Health and Safety] Act is amended to hold employers accountable for failing to ensure safe workplaces, we will see these fatalities continue climbing.  It is totally unfair that these mines make billions while workers must die on duty due to their gross negligence.  We will do everything in our power to stop these killings”, Mathunjwa concluded.

For interviews:  AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa