Boss followed me into mine for sex

Women are demanding that manager's listen to their relatives concerns
Women are demanding that manager's listen to their relatives concerns
Image: Yoliswa Sobuwa

Katlego Mogwera has been diagnosed with depression ever since she was allegedly sexually harassed by a mine captain at LanXess chrome mine in Rustenburg, North West.

Mogwera, 35, a rock drill operator, also felt hard done by the mine management who she accused of dragging their feet in addressing her plight.

She said her boss had promised her a higher position if she agreed to sleep with him.

Mogwera said she reported the case to the company's human resources department nine months ago but nothing has happened since.

She always feels depressed whenever she sees the perpetrator at work, she told Sowetan yesterday. This has also angered her colleagues who have since staged an underground sit-in since Wednesday last week.

"My life has never been the same ever since the sexual harassment started in May last year. He started by calling me into his office, demanding my cellphone number.

He then went on to fondle my breasts, threatening that my career would never go anywhere as he was the only person who had powers to give me a higher position," Mogwera alleged.

She said when she refused to sleep with the man the situation became worse as he would go underground to make things difficult for her.

"I reported the case to our HR but my pleas fell on deaf ears. He started going underground to make my life difficult as he would force me to drill using big machinery. I decided to report the matter at Rustenburg police station and he was arrested in October last year.

"Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to the case as I was also hospitalised for a month because of depression."

Mogwera said all she wanted was for the company to take appropriate action against the perpetrator as she no longer feels safe at work.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Mogwera had joined family members who have been camping outside the mine with the hope that their loved ones would come to the surface.

Carrying her nine-month-old baby on the back, Nomfusi Sikade, 37, from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape, came to visit her husband for the June holidays. But little did she know that she would spend most of her time camped outside the mine praying for his safe return.

"I last saw him on Wednesday when he left for work and I became worried when he did not return on his usual time. I asked the neighbours what was happening and they told me about the protest [at the mine]. We are starving as there is no food at home," Sikade said.

"Sisi eyam indoda itya itreatment [sister my husband is taking treatment] and I am worried about his safety and health. I can't even afford to pay R5 for a 20l of water because we have to buy water here," she said.

Her neighbour and the wife of one of the protesting mineworkers, Bulelwa Bengendawo, 31, said it felt like their husbands had been buried alive.

"I now depend on the generosity of neighbours to feed my two children."

Sikade and Bengendawo's husbands are among close to 300 discontented mineworkers who have staged a sit-in at the mine in protest against an alleged sex-for-job scandal at the mine.

The women said they would continue camping outside the mine as they pray for their husbands safe return.

The mineworkers are affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

They are demanding action from management against a mine captain behind the scandal.

Numsa said the alleged perpetrator had not been suspended and no disciplinary action was taken against him.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told Sowetan this week their members had raised a number of issues with the mine bosses, but no action had been taken.

Yesterday, LanXess general manager Ben Marais said production at the mine has been halted.

"Currently, all production on site has been stopped and the mine clinic has been closed to ensure the safety of all employees who are not involved in the strike action. We have not been made aware of any health problems underground, and emergency medical assistance is immediately available as soon as an employee returns to the surface," Marais said.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said mine security refused to allow the miners to take food underground.

National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the official accused of sexual harassment was their member but added that NUM would not protect anyone accused of abuse.

"Now we have been informed the case has been reinstated by the SAPS and our member is going to a criminal court. The law must take its course," Mammburu said.

He said the sexual harassment case "must not be used as a smokescreen to hide the real issue pertaining to the majority union at the company". - Additional reporting by Zoe Mahopo

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