The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will today conduct a fact-finding mission at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein mine in Carletonville. Photo: Bloomberg
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will today conduct a fact-finding mission at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein mine in Carletonville amid the four-and-a-half-month wage strike that has claimed nine lives.

The visit comes after employees and community members approached the commission to raise concerns that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) led strike could lead to another Marikana tragedy like that of mid-August 2012.

The SAHRC said it would investigate alleged human rights violations and attempt to broker a deal to end the strike.

“The commission will seek to examine whether the mining company and the labour unions have exercised their best endeavours to resolve the ongoing industrial dispute and whether sufficient safeguards and measures have been employed to ensure the safety of employees and prevent the outbreak of violence,” the SAHRC said.

It also it planned to further examine the role played by the SAPS in dealing with incidents and responding to the threat and outbreak of violence between any parties. “The commission intends engaging with the labour unions, management and the police to establish the causes of the prolonged labour strike and the resultant deaths,” said the commission.

During a visit to Carletonville last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele launched a crime combating and reaction team in response to the killings, assaults and the torching of homes and vehicles of the non-striking workers.

Amcu is demanding a R1000 a month wage hike despite the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), trade union Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa (Uasa) agreeing to R700 a month in the first and second year and R825 a month in the third year for entry level employees.

Yesterday, Sibanye-Stillwater said it would approach the Labour Court to declare the strike as unprotected after results of its verification exercise supported management's position that NUM, Solidarity and Uasa collectively represented the majority of employees at the South African gold operations.

The group said that it embarked on a union verification process at its gold operations between November 22, 2018, when the strike began, and February 18, 2019, when the wage agreement was signed with other unions.

Chief executive Neal Froneman said the independent verification exercise would form a basis for implementing the extension of the wage agreement in terms of Section 23 of the Labour Relations Act.

“Our attempts to lawfully end this strike have been frustrated by ongoing legal challenges by Amcu since mid-December 2018, which has unnecessarily extended the strike, to the detriment of its members. Amcu has again challenged the outcome of the Verification Exercise and we again urge Amcu leadership to allow due processes to be followed,” Froneman said.

In another development, Sibanye yesterday announced that it was placing the equivalent of about 5percent of the company's existing share capital for institutional investors to raise about R1.8billion.

The placing is being conducted through an accelerated book build process, which will be launched immediately and managed for Sibanye by JP Morgan Securities.