Three Fatalities At Mining Operations As The New Year

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is saddened by another TWO fatalities at Harmony Gold’s Free State operations and ONE at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bambanani Shaft. The Union has been consistently calling for amendments to the Mine Health and Safety Act. But yet again we see another breadwinner killed and yet mining bosses collect their bonuses. Where is the justice?

As the new year opens, Harmony Gold has two fatalities on their hands. In the early hours of Saturday, 11 January 2020, a locomotive driver was unfortunately fatally injured in a mud rush incident, whilst working on night shift.
Reportedly, the worker went to inspect the box chute, which conveys ore into locomotive carriers, and for some reason yet unknown the box opened and overwhelmed him with collected ore, killing him. The AMCU comrade was from Lesotho and he leaves behind a wife and four children.

On Tuesday, 13 January 2020, another mine worker was found dead underground at Phakisa mine, after he was absent from the end of night shift. We await the conclusion of the investigation.

On Friday, 17 January 2020, we received a report of another fatality at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bambanani Shaft at their Kroondal operations, near Rustenberg. A Rock Drill Operator (RDO) was tragically killed in a fall of ground incident. He was a Mozambican national. Investigations are underway.

This is a tragic start to 2020 and indeed for Harmony Gold, which led the fatalities in 2019 with ten workers killed, overtaking Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef. The last fatality at Harmony Gold was on 17 December 2019 at their Kusasalethu operations. Will Harmony Gold become the leader in 2020? Will Sibanye-Stillwater jockey for position?

These fatalities show a lack of commitment by senior management towards improving safety at these mines. The employer has the legal duty of continuously monitoring compliance at each mine, and Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater are again failing in that obligation. What are the Board of Directors doing but raking in profits at the expense of African workers?

Where is the government’s intervention? When will perpetrators of such heinous acts be brought to justice? Are workers just here to make bosses rich, easily replaced if they become sick or injured? Easily replaced if they are killed? No! As AMCU we say no. Where is the justice? Employers must be held to account by a Mine Health and Safety Act with teeth and a government which works to protect people, not profits.