Mine bosses grilled over work­ers’ deaths

Pretoria News - - NEWS - MARY JANE MPHAHLELE

THE Depart­ment of Min­eral Re­sources says it will meet Sibanye-Still­wa­ter mine man­age­ment to ad­dress the soar­ing deaths of minework­ers.

The depart­ment gave Par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on min­eral re­sources this un­der­tak­ing af­ter res­cuers yes­ter­day found a fourth body at Sibanye-Still­wa­ter’s Kloof mine, south­west of Jo­han­nes­burg.

The depart­ment’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral Thabo Mokoena said: “We have been on site with the act­ing chief in­spec­tor of mines who is cur­rently at Sibanye. We are looking at th­ese is­sues holis­ti­cally. The min­is­ter, to­gether with the depart­ment, will be hav­ing a meet­ing this week with Sibanye to see how we can deal with this chal­lenge.”

Five work­ers en­tered an aban­doned shaft with poor ven­ti­la­tion early on Mon­day. Three of the five were con­firmed dead on Mon­day.

One mine worker re­mains trapped and un­ac­counted for. Res­cue mis­sions are on­go­ing at the aban­doned shaft of the We­stonaria mine.

The mine has the high­est fa­tal­i­ties since the be­gin­ning of this year, with the re­cent in­ci­dents bring­ing the num­ber to 19.

Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Sih­lulele Luzipo called on the depart­ment to hold share­hold­ers and se­nior man­age­ment ac­count­able for the deaths. “I’d like to know what share­hold­ers of Sibanye say when they get their money, when that money is done on the back of dead minework­ers,” said Luzipo.

Mokoena as­sured the com­mit­tee that the depart­ment would get to the bot­tom of the mat­ter, and hold those in the wrong ac­count­able.

“The depart­ment will make sure that we do ev­ery­thing in our power to en­sure that there is com­pli­ance. The Mine Health and Safety Act is very spe­cific that if em­ploy­ees fore­see that they will be ex­posed to dan­ger, they have a right to refuse to go un­der­ground or be ex­posed to what­ever dan­ger­ous place. Th­ese are the things we will have conversations about,” said Mokoena.

Unions have also called on Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Gwede Man­tashe to act de­ci­sively against min­ing houses that fail to en­sure the safety of staff.

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