The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has demanded that the management at Sibanye-Stillwater mining operations be held accountable for what they call “the reckless endangerment” of workers.
“The CEO of Sibanye Stillwater and the entire top management need to be held personally liable for the death of the workers in the mine. They all need to be prosecuted and sent to prison,” Cosatu spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said in a statement.
The union called on government to “take seriously the mine accidents that are killing and injuring hundreds of workers every day,” Pamla said in the statement.
“We are angered by the government’s failure to confront the mining sector and deal decisively with companies like Sibanye –Stillwater that are slaughtering the workers with impunity. Sibanye-Stilllwater remains the most dangerous company to work for in this country and is the biggest culprit when it comes to mine accidents and killings,” Pamla said.
Cosatu’s call comes in the wake of an incident at Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in the south of Johannesburg on Monday.
Four out of five miners were killed at the Kloof Ikamva Shaft, which was reportedly badly ventilated.
“The latest accident that has left four mineworkers dead at Kloof Ikamva Shaft is a reminder of this company’s negligence and unrestrained greed. We are troubled to hear that these workers were forced to venture into an old part of the mine that was not safe by the management. Government should investigate and prosecute the Sibanye Stillwater management for their reckless endangerment of workers,” he said.
He called on the Departments of Labour and Mineral Resources “to stop watching from the sidelines while the workers are being maimed and killed by the mining sector’s poor safety standards”.
“The current administration is very generous to mining firms and this is the reason why they are retrenching and killing workers without any care in the world,” Pamla’s statement concluded.
On Tuesday, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee for Mineral Resources issued a statement expressing its sadness at the loss of life.
The committee expressed concern that Monday’s incident brings the death toll at Sibanye mines to 19 since January, and that nine lives have already been lost in just two months.
The committee chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipo, called for “unusual action” to be taken at the mine, and that management be held responsible for the incidents.
He also urged for “a swift and thorough inspection of the health and safety measures at Sibanye’s mines” be undertaken and that “maximum sanctions” be imposed for any lapses.