Ban sought to stop mine workers attacking rescue officials
In December last year, employees and ex-employees of Tegeta Mines stormed the offices in Equity Park in Brooklyn Road, demanding to get paid. Hundreds of furious mine workers pulled the main gates apart and tried to enter the office building.
The same happened last week Monday, when bus loads of Koornfontein Mine workers arrived at the office.
Liquidator and business rescue practitioner Kgashane Monyela, one of Koornfontein Mines’ business rescue practitioners, said about 400 workers arrived at the office complex at around noon on April 1. They travelled from Hendrina in Mpumalanga in buses. Most of them were members of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Security guards managed to lock the main gates with a steel chain and padlock to prevent them from entering. The workers were agitated and became violent, Monyela said. They managed to break the lock and forcefully gained entrance to the premises. According to Monyela, some were drinking alcohol while they sang and danced.
He said one of the leaders assured him that everything was under control and that they had no intention of harming anyone. He asked Monyela to address the crowd and give them an update regarding the mine’s position and when their salaries would be paid.
Monyela said he was given a memorandum with the workers’ grievances. While he walked towards the steps from where he was going to address the crowd, he was attacked by some of the group. “I was unable to defend myself. I fell down, and the assaults intensified. I was brutally kicked and punched all over my body. Blood was pouring from my nose and mouth and I feared for my life.”
His concern was to cover his head with his arms and to try to protect his upper body from the kicks and punches. The attack lasted about three minutes, before he was able to get up and take cover around a corner.
The police arrived, but they were not prepared to intervene and kept a safe distance.
Some of the workers in the office block were filming the attack. One of the mine workers saw this and threatened to throw a large stone at an employee taking a video. A recording was also made of this, all of which will be presented to the court today.
An ambulance arrived, but the mine workers refused it entry. One of the paramedics was assaulted when he tried to get to Monyela. The medics realised their lives were in danger and they left.
The police subsequently formed a human barrier between the mine workers and Monyela.
The mine workers only left the premises at around 6pm.
Monyela said they had made it clear that they intended to return to demand their salaries.
Koornfontein is experiencing severe cash flow challenges and the business rescuers have been unable to pay salaries since November.
“We managed to obtain post-commencement finance of R50 million, which is earmarked for the payment of expenses, including arrears salaries.”
Monyela said they asked Koornfontein workers not to report for duty in an attempt to limit the mine’s expenses. He said the mine workers were under the misapprehension that the business rescuers were deliberately refusing to pay them their arrears salaries and that was why they decided to confront the practitioners.
“They told me they will wait at the premises until we pay their outstanding salaries, even if it meant that they must sleep there, on the ground.”
Monyela said the other tenants in the building were shaken and upset about this incident, as well as the one in December.