Johannesburg - The ANC and mining bosses are to blame for the death of eight miners at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine, west of Johannesburg, the Economic Freedom Fighters said on Thursday.
“EFF puts the responsibility for the death of these mine workers squarely on the doorstep of the ANC government and the mining bosses it serves,” said spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
He accused the ANC of protecting mine bosses.
“These deaths like many in the mining industry are preventable and therefore should be seen not as accidents but murder for profits,” he said.
All operations at the mine, other than essential services, were suspended on Wednesday night after a fire broke out on level 192 of the mine, about 1700 metres underground.
The fire followed a seismic event on Tuesday which triggered a fall of ground.
Eighteen people were reported missing at the end of Tuesday's shift. One miner surfaced in the early hours of Wednesday and told rescue workers where the other miners he had seen underground were.
Eight miners were brought to the surface unharmed later on Wednesday. Nine miners were still unaccounted for at the time.
On Thursday morning, the bodies of eight miners had been found. One was still missing.
The EFF said the mineral resources department should investigate whether negligence played a factor in the incident.
“Harmony must be asked what measures have they put in place to find out and pre-empt if there will be a tragedy should they send workers down the earth,” said Ndlozi.
“This must be done, taking into consideration that mining, rock drilling in particular, is in the first place a life risky affair and that the mining of gold has proven to be even riskier in South Africa for many years now.”
The party called for improved working conditions for miners as well as a wage increase that would see workers earning R12,500 a month.