File image: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - Workers' unions and political parties have condemned the death of yet another mineworker at Sibanye-Stillwater's operations.

On Tuesday, a 36-year-old winch operator died at the company's Khomanani mine in Driefontein west of Johannesburg after he entered a scraper path and was caught by the scraper. The death brought to 21 the number of fatalities at Sibanye operations in 10 incidents since the beginning of the year.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said one death was one death too many. 

"This is unacceptable as we don't sell our lives, limbs or lungs to the industry but our labour to provide for our families," said NUM health and safety chairperson Duncan Luvuno.

President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) Joseph Mathunjwa said the accidents were a crime against humanity, and repeated the union's clarion call for the government to amend the Mine and Health Safety Act to give workers the right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. 

"Even worse, it is a crime against the most vulnerable people in our society – those who have to toil daily for low wages so that mining bosses can maximise their profits and keep shareholders satisfied," Mathunjwa said. 

Sabelo Sigudu, spokesperson for the National Freedom Party, said it was surprising that the department of mineral resources still allowed Sibanye to neglect health and safety regulations and yet operate as if all was well. 

"This incident clearly shows that Sibanye-Stillwater is more concerned about generating profit than ensuring that miners' working conditions are safe," Sigudu said.

"As a result we call for a complete shut down until working conditions are guaranteed that are safer for all miners."

The chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources Sahlulele Luzipo called for strong action to be taken against Sibanye, including possibly suspending its operating licence.

Sibanye said it would on Friday convene a safety summit in order to collectively address these incidents, prevent the loss of lives at its operations and re-establish its safety record. 

African News Agency (ANA)