Three workers killed amid platinum belt strike – NUM

Three workers were hacked to death on Monday in South Africa’s restive platinum belt where a strike action is in its fourth month, said the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Two of the workers were killed while on their way to work, while the third was attacked at his home along with his wife, who also died, NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, told Agence France-Presse.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Thulane Ngubane on Monday, a 60-year-old mineworker was found dead with multiple stab wounds in Bapong. “On Sunday, in Bapong village, a couple was found strangled to death, the wife was stripped naked, the husband was a mineworker … the couple ran an illegal shebeen,” said Ngubane. 

Another miner was burned to ashes in the Big House informal settlement in Bapong. Ngubane said six miners were stabbed while they were on their way to work on Monday. 

Meanwhile, world number three platinum producer Lonmin said it anticipated a “mass return to work” on Wednesday at its strike-hit operations, according to an internal company memo to employees.

“Managers and supervisors are returning from leave and ramp plans are in place for a safe return,” said the memo, dated Friday and seen by Reuters.

“Lonmin is gearing up for a serious back to work offensive on Monday 12 May in anticipation of a mass return to work on 14 May,” the memo said.

Longest strike ever
Lonmin and larger rivals Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum have been taking wage offers directly to employees in a bid to end a 15-week strike after talks with the Amcu collapsed.

The strike is the longest and costliest ever on South Africa’s mines, highlighting discontent among black miners who feel they are still not reaping the benefits of the country’s mineral wealth two decades after apartheid ended.

It has hit 40% of global platinum supplies and dented already sluggish growth in the country.

Lonmin already said it was hoping to restart on May 14 if enough of its workers indicated their willingness to accept the offer by Thursday, and non-Amcu union sources told Reuters on Friday managers had been visiting shafts.

The memo said striking employees could still “indicate their intention to accept the offer”.

A showdown is looming on South Africa’s restive platinum belt as Amcu’s leaders maintain that most of their roughly 70 000 striking members are not happy with the latest offer. Its officials were not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

‘Security plan’
But the companies, betting that the rank and file are keen to return after more than three months without pay, have been going directly to the employees through campaigns that have included SMS surveys.

The Lonmin memo said a “security plan is in place” and that buses would be provided to bring workers back.

The memo also stated security would be regarded as crucial as the companies say Amcu is using violence and intimidation to keep its members in line – allegations the union has denied.

Implats said on Thursday it was also conducting an SMS vote on the offer late this week.

The companies are offering increases of up to 10% that they say would raise the overall minimum pay package to R12 500 a month by July 2017, including cash allowances such as for housing.

Amcu had initially demanded an immediate increase to R12 500 in basic wages, excluding allowances, but softened that stance in March to staggered increases that would amount to R12 500 within three or four years – still a third more than what the companies are offering in basic salaries. – AFP, Reuters, Sapa

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Reuters
Guest Author
Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders