More than 500 mineworkers have remained underground for a third day, at Gold One Mine’s Modder East shaft in Springs, east of Johannesburg.
Labour unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have argued over the workers’ actions.
Police are at the scene where Amcu insists the workers are voluntarily refusing to come to the surface, staging a “sit-in” until Amcu is officially recognised as a union by the mine.
On the other hand, the NUM insists the 543 workers are its members who are being held underground against their will, by “hooligans”.
NUM national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu insisted that there was no voluntary sit-in taking place at the mine.
“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) can confirm that 543 NUM members are being held hostage underground at Gold One mine in Springs. NUM members are being held hostage underground against their will. There is no sit-in underground by our members,” he said.
According to Mammburu, the hostage situation started on Sunday night when workers reported for a night shift underground, and they were prevented from coming back to the surface on Monday morning.
“Nine NUM members got injured after they were assaulted by the hooligans who were preventing them from coming to the surface. They are still preventing them from coming to the surface,” he said.
“NUM is worried that there are a lot of women who are being held hostage underground. This is unacceptable.”
On Monday, IOL reported that Gold One mine's spokesperson Jon Hericourt also revealed that at least 543 of their miners were being held hostage after they were prevented from coming up at the end of their shift.