The chairperson of the portfolio committee on mineral resources, Sahlulele Luzipo, has called for strong action to be taken against Sibanye-Stillwater, including possibly suspending the mining company’s operating licence.
This call came after Sibanye-Stillwater’s head of investor relations, James Wellsted, confirmed that another miner had lost his life – this time at the mine’s Khomanani mine in Driefontein – on Tuesday morning.
Luzipo said it was “high time the company is placed under curatorship. In the interim, it will be best for the company to have someone competent to oversee its daily operations and take decisions that will be in the best interest of the wellbeing of workers.”
This brings to six the number of Sibanye workers who have lost their lives in one month, and 21 since the beginning of the year.
Luzipo said the rate at which workers were dying at Sibanye-Stillwater mines had reached disastrous proportions.
According to the company, the latest fatality occurred after the employee – for reasons still to be determined – “entered the path of a scraper and was caught by it”. No details were forthcoming, and Wellsted said the company was investigating.
Wellsted said: “The board and management of Sibanye-Stillwater extend their sincere condolences to the families and friends of our deceased colleague. This is another sad incident and all efforts are being focussed on addressing this perplexing increase in safety incidents.”
He also promised that as “per regulatory convention, an investigation into the incident will be carried out by management, together with the department of mineral resources and other stakeholders to ascertain why and how the miner ventured to this section of the mine.”
Wellsted also told City Press that the company had clear procedure that prevented workers from entering disused or hazardous parts of mines and he was uncertain why the worker was there.
The mine came under fire last month from unions and Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe for its deteriorating safety record after five miners were killed at the mine’s Kloof Ikamva division.
READ: Sibanye-Stillwater miners: Dying to breathe
At the time, the mine also claimed that the five miners apparently entered an abandoned session of the shaft leading to their demise.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the spate of mining-related deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater was a crime against humanity.
“Amcu sees these incidents as a crime against humanity. Even worse it is a crime against the most vulnerable in society, those who have to toil daily for low wages so that mining bosses can maximise their profits and keep shareholders happy.
“The mine reiterates its call for urgent intervention to address this tragic loss of life,” said Mathunjwa.
Amcu last month called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mantashe to address safety issues and better working conditions in mines.
The trade union asked Ramaphosa to help amend the Mine Health and Safety Act to give more power to workers and trade unions to address safety issues in order to counter the power of mining bosses.
Wellsted said Sibanye-Stillwater would be hosting its second safety summit on Friday in order to collectively address safety incidents, and the prevention of the loss of lives at its operations and reestablish its safety record.