NGO denies platinum strike bias

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Copy of Copy of si platinum strike crisis INLSA Residents queue for food provided by Evelyn Mmekwa in Wonderkop informal settlement. Striking miners are struggling to put food on the table for their families as the strike enters its fourth month. Photo: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Gift of the Givers has denied that it is distributing food selectively in the embattled platinum belt of the North West province.

"We do not work with Amcu or NUM. It is a lie that we are only helping Amcu members," spokeswoman Emily Thomas said on Sunday.

She said they worked with the Marikana Campaign Committee, which identified people who needed to be assisted.

"They only ask for a clock card number, not whether you are Amcu or NUM."

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni accused Gift of the Givers of providing food only to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members.

Baleni said his union members were equally affected by the four-month-long strike as they were intimidated to stop them from reporting for duty.

Gift of the Givers chairman Imtiaz Sooliman said it was regrettable that NUM accused them of assisting certain groups of mineworkers selectively.

"If our food parcel distribution was done in a clandestine, secret manner in some underground warehouse or behind closed doors it would be understandable that there would be room for suspicion.

"However, our distribution is done in open fields in full view of the South African media, visible and open to any member of the public who wants to witness the distribution."

He said at no stage were any individuals requested to produce any kind of documentation to decide who should or should not get provisions.

"Ironically, during the crisis at Aurora mines in 2011-2 and the Marikana crisis of 2012 once again we assisted miners in exactly the same way as now, unconditionally and impartially. We were profusely thanked by NUM for that effort and yet we have done nothing differently now," he said.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) operations in Rustenburg and Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

They rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12,500 by July 2017.

The strike has cost employees R8.6 billion in earnings and companies have lost R19.5bn in revenue according to a website, platinumwagenegotiations.co.za, created by the companies.

Labour Court brokered mediation talks between Amcu and the companies were ongoing, after no agreement was reached on Friday.

Platinum producers said on Friday they were determined to find a common commitment to resolve the dispute.

The strike, now on its 122nd day, has been marred by violence and intimidation which has led to the deaths of five NUM members.

Thomas said Gift of the Givers would continue to provide food to mineworkers and their families in Northam, Limpopo on Monday.

On Saturday, the organisation gave food to 2300 families in Wonderkop near Marikana.

"Hungry and starving men, women and children ululated as 2300
families received food parcels, 6000 were fed a hot meal, over a thousand were treated by a 25-member medical team and 300 were given blankets and tinned food in an attempt to give something to everyone of the 10,000 desperate people who turned up," she said.

She said the medical team encountered people with a whole range of conditions, including HIV, hypertension, diabetes, skin ailments, and TB. Those at greatest risk were the many pregnant women, who have not been receiving normal antenatal follow-ups.

 

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