More than 1 000 miners will down tools at the Arnot Exarro coal mine in Mpumalanga to mourn the death of a worker, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday.
“The mine will shut down completely tomorrow [Tuesday] as workers mourn the death of one of the miners,” NUM branch secretary Mxolisi Hoboyi said.
The worker, 58-year-old Petrus Sikupa, injured his spinal chord when the roof of the mine collapsed in June last year.
He was admitted to various hospitals and died at home on December 26 2010. He would be buried on Saturday.
“As part of the NUM’s Central Committee resolution to observe a day of mourning after every fatality, the mine workers will tomorrow down tools.
“We want to make a point that if mine workers get injured on duty and are sent home to die for fear of liability, the companies will still be held liable by us, the workers,” said Hoboyi.
He said mine workers would down tools from 7.30am to midday and would attend a service addressed by union leaders and the mine management.
NUM national spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said 141 mine deaths for the year were reported in November 2010, compared with 158 reported in 2009.
“However this is not a full figure of fatalities that occurred last year. The complete figure will be reported at the end of January.
“Although some may say there have been [fewer] fatalities … the reality is that fatalities have not been reduced,” said Seshoka.
He said a new trend had emerged where mine managers — in trying to reduce the numbers of people who died in the line of duty — were opting to send injured people to die at home.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people who get injured at work and die at home,” said Seshoka. — Sapa