Mineworker killed during lockdown

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has learnt of fatal accident at Mzimkhulu Colliery in Mpumalanga Province. The Union reports that it requested a list of mines exempted from the national lockdown, but that none was forthcoming. AMCU then provides provisional safety statistics for the mining sector to date, including national statistics on the Covid-19 coronavirus.

In the early hours of Wednesday, 1 April 2020, a worker was fatally injured in a conveyor belt-related incident at Mzimkhulu Colliery, which is located near Kendal Power Station, between Delmas and Emalahleni. Reportedly, the worker was caught between the conveyor belt and the transfer chute.

AMCU questions whether the required safety mechanisms were in place to prevent such an accident, and also why there appears to have been no engineering controls to prevent an employee getting dragged by a conveyor belt.

Just last week, AMCU wrote to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe. In the letter, the Union expressed its disappointment with the blanket allowances for the exemption of specifically coalmines from the Covid-19 national lockdown. AMCU also asked for a list of these mines, as undertook by the Minister at an earlier engagement. This was done for the express purpose of allocating resources to these mines in the case of any incident occurring. The Minister has yet to respond to AMCU’s letter.

At this stage it is unclear whether Mzimkhulu Colliery was granted exemption status as an essential service.

Update on provisional safety statistics:

Provisional fatalities in the South African mining industry currently stand at thirteen (13), with injuries at 467 year-to-date (as at 23 March 2019). With this fatality, the total is 14.

Coronavirus deaths in South Africa officially stand at 5, with 1353 infections. This invisible killer must be dealt with effectively and efficiently. We implore all employees to be mindful of safe hygiene practices and follow all sanctioned directives. We appeal to all employers in the country to ensure protection of their employees’ health and safety and that of their families and loved ones.