A man found hanging from a tree on Tuesday in Broederstroom in North West’s troubled platinum mining belt is believed to have been a mineworker, police said.
Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said he was found on the road between Hartbeespoort Dam and Krugersdorp.
“The body of a man, alleged to be a mineworker, was found hanging on the tree in Leeukloof, not far from Hartebeeshoek Road.”
Ngubane said the man was dressed in clothes similar to those used by mineworkers.
A girl on her way to school saw the body and alerted her mother. A Volkswagen Golf apparently belonging to the deceased was found on the roadside. It had crashed into a tree.
“How the victim ended up being hanged in the tree is what police are investigating as a registered inquest,” Ngubane said.
In another case, two mineworkers were beaten in Freedom Park near Rustenburg on their way to work on Tuesday.
“The incident took place near Impala’s UG2 shaft early in the morning today [Tuesday].”
One of the men apparently worked at an engineering construction at Bafokeng Rasimone Mine and the other at UG2 shaft at Impala, said Ngubane.
“The victims sustained multiple stab wounds on the body and feet. No one has been arrested at this stage, as the police investigation continues.”
Implats confirmed one of the men worked at Bafokeng, but denied the second one was in its employ. The company said the men, aged 33 and 37, were assaulted and not stabbed. An assault docket was opened.
Ngubane urged striking mineworkers to allow those who were not on strike to exercise their constitutional rights without hindrance or intimidation.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Impala Platinum, Lonmin, and Anglo American Platinum in the Rustenburg area in the North West downed tools on January 23 after demands for an immediate increase of R12 500, excluding allowances, for entry-level mineworkers were not met.
Amcu has since agreed to staggered increases that would amount to R12 500 in three years.
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. But their offer is inclusive of allowances.
The strike has been marred by intimidation and violence that has led to the death of at least five mineworkers.
The industrial action has cost companies R19.8-billion in revenue. Employees have given up R8.8-billion in earnings, according to a website created by the companies.
Talks brokered by a Labour Court judge continued at an undisclosed location in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Monday plans to make finding a solution to the crippling four-month platinum sector strike one of his first priorities.
Speaking after the swearing in ceremony for ministers and deputies in Pretoria, Ramatlhodi said the strike was “hurting the country”.
“What is needed is to find out what the issues are that are holding back a resolution,” he said. “I am asking business and the miners to back me up to find a solution that can break this deadlock … It cant be business as usual.”
Ramatlhodi, who replaces Susan Shabangu as head of the ministry under which mining resides, said Amcu had every right to strike as the recognised union, and that negotiations would always respect that status. But he appealed to both sides to assist government in bringing the longest running strike in the country’s history to an end.
Ramatlhodi, a lawyer and former deputy minister of correctional services, begins his tenure with a difficult task.
He said engagement would involve supporting mediation efforts by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Reconciliation.
In the interests of all
Newly appointed Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene also raised his concerns about the strike on Monday evening. “It’s in the interests of all that this be resolved,” he said.
Last week, the mining companies and Amcu were persuaded to enter into three days of mediated talks headed by Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker, intended to end on Friday.
The union approached the Labour Court to prevent the three companies from communicating with unionised staff about issues relating to the strike. The judge recommended trying to first further negotiations between the two sides as they had last met three weeks prior to the court appearance.
The parties had still not reached an agreement by Friday, but talks continued on Monday.
Nene said he “was hoping that the matter could be resolved in the Labour Court”.
The shadow of Marikana looms heavily over the strike, amid concerns that it could descend into violence with the death of five miners killed so far.
The lack of exports from this sector is already beginning to negatively impact the country’s economy and investor confidence, something Ramatlhodi said he was well aware of. – Sapa, additional reporting by Chantelle Benjamin