NUM points fingers at Harmony over mine deaths

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday called for Harmony Gold Mining to take full responsibility for the death of illegal miners at its operations in the Free State.

Harmony on Monday reported the recovery of the bodies of 36 illegal miners who had reportedly died following an underground fire in an abandoned area of its Eland shaft.

The company later said the bodies of another 25 illegal miners had been brought to surface, bringing the number of those presumed to have perished in the fire to 61 by the end of Tuesday.
It was not clear whether more miners had died.

The company said it never saw any smoke and was only alerted to the accident when other illegal miners informed the company that people had died.

But despite the fact that the men killed were illegal miners, the NUM said it believes that the company should take full responsibility for “its own inaction”.

The NUM said in a statement that if the company had good security at its operations, these deaths could have been avoided.

“At the heart of the problem lies lax security and unwillingness on the part of the company to invest in proper security systems,” the NUM said.

The trade union said the company needed to further investigate, with the assistance of law-enforcement agencies, the possibility that its own personnel may have been involved in allowing these so-called illegal mineworkers underground.

“While the NUM does not in any way support and condone illegal mine workers, the union believes that these poor workers may have been lured by experienced managers to go and ply their trade at the mine,” the NUM said.

It called for an urgent investigation into how these workers had access to the mine and why security had not been able to detect their entrance.—I-Net Bridge

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