Strike to end 'genocide'

Sapa-AFP and Namhla Chasela

Sapa-AFP and Namhla Chasela

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said at the weekend it was determined to call a strike over safety, set for December 4, after four miners died in accidents in three days.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said two workers had been killed in mines belonging to the Gold Fields group on Friday and Saturday.

The miners had been respectively crushed by a rockfall at its Kloof mine near Westonaria on the West Rand and run over by a train at the Driefontein mine, 70km southwest of Johannesburg.

Also on Friday, a miner was buried in an underground landslip at Elandsrand mine near Carletonville on the West Rand, in the mine operated by Harmony Gold that had only just reopened after 3200 workers had been trapped deep underground for hours on October 4 by a faulty lift.

A further death occurred on Thursday at the Marula mine belonging to the Implats group in northern Limpopo, Seshoka said.

"It is intolerable and unacceptable. It shows that there is a real need for us to take that type of action," he said, while dismissing upcoming attempts at mediation as a "formality". The union said it was determined to put an end to the "genocide" in the country's mines.

More than 280000 miners are expected to down tools on December 4, Seshoka said yesterday.

Already, NUM has received pledges of support from miners' unions in Botswana and Namibia, as well as from Cosatu and the South African Municipal Workers Union.

Seshoka said members would march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg to protest against the industry's "lack of seriousness" about the safety of miners.

Meanwhile Chamber of Mines chief executive Zoli Diliza has acknowledged that South Africa's safety record falls extremely short of those of benchmark countries such as Australia, Canada and the US.