Three min­ers dead as strike drags on

Amcu in­sists on salary de­mand of R12 500

Sowetan - - News - By Tankiso Makhetha

The on­go­ing strike at SibanyeStill­wa­ter mines has al­legedly been char­ac­terised by in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence that has now claimed three lives.

As a re­sult the com­pany has writ­ten an open let­ter to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) pres­i­dent Joseph Mathun­jwa urg­ing him to end the strike.

About 15 000 Amcu-af­fil­i­ated work­ers downed tools at Sibanye’s gold op­er­a­tions on Novem­ber 21 after re­ject­ing a wage agree­ment which was ac­cepted by three other unions. Amcu is de­mand­ing a R12,500 salary and R1,000 an­nual in­cre­ment for three years. Since the be­gin­ning of the strike, two minework­ers have died at Sibanye’s Beatrix mine in Welkom, Free State, while one died at Drie­fontein Hos­tel in Car­letonville.

Free State po­lice spokesper­son Col Thandi Mbambo said a 53-year-old man who was a mem­ber of Na­tional Union Minework­ers (NUM), was found mur­dered fol­low­ing protests last month. Mbambo said no ar­rests had been made.

She also said an in­quest was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated after a mineworker was found float­ing at Bloudrif Dam near Beatrix mine on Novem­ber 29. “It is sus­pected that he was one of a group of minework­ers who were chased by se­cu­rity per­son­nel of Beatrix mine a day be­fore,” Mbambo said. A third mineworker, also af­fil­i­ated to NUM, was found dead with stab wounds at the Drie­fontein Hos­tel. Po­lice spokesper­son War­rant Of­fi­cer Peter Ma­sooa, how­ever, could not say if the death was re­lated to the on­go­ing strike. In an open let­ter to Mathun­jwa, Sibanye’s head of hu­man re­sources Themba Nkosi pleaded with him to halt the strike for the safety and well­be­ing of em­ploy­ees. Nkosi said Mathun­jwa should con­sider that minework­ers’ fam­i­lies would also suf­fer if the strike con­tin­ued as the “no work, no pay” prin­ci­ple would be ap­plied. “Un­for­tu­nately, the strike called by Amcu has been char­ac­terised by in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence, which has re­sulted in the need­less loss of three lives, em­ploy­ees be­ing as­saulted and a fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer be­ing se­verely as­saulted and stripped of her weapon and equip­ment,” Nkosi said. “This is un­ac­cept­able. We urge Amcu to sign the peace pact that was dis­cussed with all stake­hold­ers, and fur­ther re­quest their mem­bers to re­frain from im­ped­ing our peace and sta­bil­ity at­tempts.” NUM’s Beatrix branch deputy chair­per­son, Te­boho Mo­hale, said the deaths of their mem­bers was dis­turb­ing as they were not on strike. “The mem­ber who was shot had re­turned from Free State to bury his fa­ther. He was not part of the strike,” Mo­hale said. He said a sec­ond mem­ber was stabbed by pick­et­ing minework­ers who ac­cused him of be­ing a sell­out for re­port­ing for duty while they were fight­ing for higher wages. “It is un­ac­cept­able, but we hope the po­lice will bring those re­spon­si­ble for their deaths to book be­cause work­ers can­not be forced to en­gage in pick­ets,” he said. Mathun­jwa did not re­spond to Sowe­tan’s re­quest for com­ment.

/KABELO MOKOENA

NUM-af­fil­i­ated min­ers at Sibanye Still­wa­ters have ended the strike but two of their mem­bers have died in the vi­o­lence.

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