Johannesburg - The second slaying of a woman miner underground in as many years has prompted the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to call for the intensification of its campaign for women not to work in isolated areas.

This follows the murder of Cynthia Setuke, who was allegedly murdered and whose body was discovered in the early hours of the morning on October 9.

Setuke had been working alone in a secluded area in the Kwezi shaft of Aquarius Platinum’s Kroondal mine in Rustenburg.

Eric Gcilitshana, the national secretary for health and safety at NUM, said the union had adopted a resolution at its 2012 national conference that women should not work alone underground. This followed the killing of Pinky Mosiane in February last year.

“They must be able to see and communicate with each other. We have been engaging with the industry, but they tell us of costs. We have to intensify the campaign after the latest murder. We will carry out our campaign independently, but will work with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Chamber of Mines,” Gcilitshana said.

NUM women’s affairs official Faith Letlala said Aquarius had acknowledged its fault for allowing Setuke to work alone in an isolated area.

“I am saying to women, we are working with vultures. Men must learn to treat us as equals and not as sex objects,” she said.

The mining charter introduced in 2002 required the total workforce in a mining company to be 10 percent women by 2009. But a review carried out about three years ago found this had not been achieved.

According to Chamber of Mines estimates, there are about 500 000 miners working above and below ground in South Africa. Using NUM’s women membership as a proxy, this would put the female workforce in the industry at somewhat less than 50 000.

Letlala said the NUM estimated that women made up between 8 percent and 9 percent of its membership.

Sietse van der Woude, the head of safety and sustainable development at the chamber, said he was not able to comment yesterday.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the Department of Mineral Resources and Aquarius were not available for comment yesterday.

Announcing the slaying of Setuke, the company said: “Aquarius deplores any incidence of violence. The company will work closely with the SAPS, the Department of Mineral Resources and employee representatives to support her family and in the course of the investigation.”

The body of Pinky Mosiane was discovered at Anglo American Platinum’s Shaft One in Rustenburg last year. A man was arrested last week in connection with her death.

Letlala said all workers, particularly women, working in isolated areas underground should be guaranteed safety and security.

“Despite the killing of Pinky, it appears we are not getting any joy from the employers. We will be using the 16 Days of Activism in November to highlight the plight of women miners underground.” - Business Report