The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has recorded the 72nd death in the mining sector this year. This latest fatality took place at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu operations outside Carletonville on Gauteng’s West Rand.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family of this breadwinner, and also to his loved ones and his colleagues at work”, said National Chairperson: Health and Safety, Xolani Bokoloshe. “May our Lord give them comfort and consolation during this difficult time”, he said.
According to the report received, at approximately 10:45 yesterday (10 December 2021) a team leader succumbed to injuries sustained when he was struck by a snatch block as it came loose from its anchoring points. The accident happened at 98 level 16 X/C West 1 Stope Gully of Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu Mine.
“This comrade was only 35 years old, and he leaves behind a wife and two children”, Bokoloshe said. “One cannot fully come to grips with the full effect of such an event in this family’s life”, he said.
It is reported that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the AMCU Branch Leadership will perform an in loco inspection.
“We will participate in the investigation and leave no stone unturned to find out exactly what led to this terrible accident”, Bokoloshe said. “This is the third time that this type of accident happened at Kusasalethu this year, and according to our records it is also the third accident of this nature in the mining industry for 2021”, he said.
AMCU has consistently called for the strengthening of the DMRE through the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), and specifically for mine bosses to be held criminally liable for accidents where negligence can be proven.
“Harmony is now second with 14 workers killed for 2021, just behind Sibanye-Stillwater that is still leading the pack with 18 breadwinners killed for this year”, said Bokoloshe. “It can’t continue like this. Something must be done”, he said.
The Union previously made submissions for amendments to the MHSA to hold mining bosses accountable, and it continuously repeats this clarion call. AMCU also recently called on the DMRE to lead an inquest into the rising mining fatalities this year. The total number of fatalities for 2021 currently stands at 72, by far surpassing the fatalities of 2020 (60) and 2019 (51) at year-end.
“We need the DMRE to step up to the plate and intervene to stop these unnecessary killings. If an inquest will help, let the DMRE call an inquest”, said Bokoloshe. “It is also important that the DMRE strengthens its inspectorate and pro-actively intervenes where safety infrastructure and protocols are found to be lacking”, he added. “The Mine Health and Safety Act has many stipulations but these need to be enforced and implemented if we want to make a difference”, Bokoloshe concluded.
For interviews: Xolani Bokoloshe