File image: Reuters

The fate of hostel-dwelling workers at Gold Fields hung in the balance on Wednesday pending a court decision on an application to evict them.

The urgent application, filed in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday, sought to remove striking workers from their hostels at the KDC West Mine in Carletonville, company spokesman Sven Lunsche said.

He said the mine “believed it will take a few days” for the court to deal with the application.

As the three-week strike by miners at both the KDC and Beatrix mine continued, the company's management told workers living in hostels to leave on Tuesday. They ignored the order.

Lunsche said about 5000 of its 13,000 KDC workers lived in hostels.

“The hostels had become a hot-bed of violence and we felt there was an immediate threat of danger to hostels and mine property. We want to create a safety valve by evacuating the hostel,” said Lunsche.

National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said on Wednesday Gold Fields was “totally out of order” in applying for an eviction order.

“You can't fight fire with fire,” he said, adding: “Where must they go? In our view evictions can only exacerbate the situation.”

He said reports that the strikers were gathering on a hill, as workers at Lonmin in Marikana, North West, had done, were correct.

“They are congregating on a hill because they have been chased out of the hostel. Where must they meet?”

Also on Wednesday, eight striking miners from KDC West mine were expected to appear in the Carletonville Magistrate's Court on charges of public violence and intimidation. - Sapa