Johannesburg - Five striking miners at Gold One’s flagship Modder East mine near Springs are believed to have been shot by security guards during a wage protest on Monday.
The injured men were taken to hospital. But while witnesses reported seeing the men bleeding profusely, both mine management and the police were unable to confirm the incident.
A large group of miners, who have been on strike since June 4, gathered at the gate singing while police monitored them.
“Sidubuleni, sidubuleni [shoot us, shoot us],” they sang tauntingly at the police.
Others carrying branches, logs and placards sang “Dubula, dubula [shoot, shoot]”.
When the police allowed some delivery workers access to the property, the workers responded angrily.
The workers said they wanted their jobs back with better pay.
They had been dismissed by SMS on June 11 for their June 4 strike. They claimed they were paid R4 000 before deductions, and R2 900 after tax, and produced a salary slip to prove that this was what rock drillers there were paid.
According to rock driller Tsietso Moremoholo, all the workers at the mine were paid the same, regardless of their occupation. His statement was supported by his colleagues, who said it did not matter whether one was a cleaner, driver or just a general worker; the salaries were the same - in many cases the difference was just R100.
“We work under terrible conditions. We get ill because of this work and when we get ill they dismiss you and send you home to die, saying we are not well enough to work. But if it were not for the mine, we would not be ill,” one miner said.
Non-striking miners were prevented from going to work today for safety reasons.
Meanwhile the National Prosecuting Authority is provisionally withdrawing murder charges against 270 Lonmin miners.
Political parties, trade unions and legal experts - including the ANC chief whip, the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, the DA, the National Union of Mineworkers and Cosatu - welcomed the move, some saying the miners should never have been charged in the first place.
Acting national prosecutions chief Nomgcobo Jiba, who announced the climbdown at a briefing in Pretoria on Sunday, said some of the detained miners would be released on a warning on Monday.
They were arrested on August 16 in connection with public violence charges after 34 striking miners were killed by police gunfire at Lonmin’s Marikana mine near Rustenburg.
Jiba was flanked by her two deputies - Thoko Majokweni and Asset Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr - as well as advocate Johan Smit SC, the North West director of public prosecutions, at whose feet she laid sole blame for the decision to charge the men with murder.
“The murder charge against the current 270 suspects will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance. It must be emphasised that [Smit’s] decision was not a final decision on the charges that the suspects are to face,” Jiba said.
She added that “other provisional charges” would remain.
Seven miners still face murder charges in a separate case involving two policemen who were hacked to death about a week before the August 16 massacre. - Additional reporting by Omphitlhetse Mooki