The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it is concerned about the hostage situation at the Gold One mine in Springs, Ekurhuleni.
This comes after it was reported that more than 543 miners were being held hostage underground on Monday. It is not clear who is holding these miners against their will as rival union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has also denied involvement in the alleged hostage situation.
On Monday afternoon, NUM in a statement said the hostages include women miners who have been held against their will underground.
“NUM members are being held hostage underground against their will. There is no sit-in underground by our members,” said NUM national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu.
According to Mammburu, the hostage situation began on Sunday night with workers prevented from returning to the surface on Monday morning.
It has been reported that at least nine miners were injured after being assaulted by unknown hooligans.
“Nine NUM members got injured after they were assaulted by hooligans who were preventing them from coming to the surface and they are still being prevented from coming to the surface,” Mammburu added.
However, with previous accusations pointing to Amcu, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa has denied there is a “hostage situation” at Gold One Modder East Mine.
“The night shift refused to come back from underground due to their frustration of their membership applications to Amcu not being processed since March this year,” Mathunjwa said.
Mathunjwa said the sit-in, which has been denied by NUM, was due to endless fights for Amcu to be recognised as a legitimate union by Gold One management.
“More than 1 700 of the total of 1 800 employees have completed membership forms to join Amcu, so it is completely nonsensical to claim that anybody is being held hostage when it is clear that Amcu is the outright majority,” he said.
According to “Business Day”, Amcu has been interdicted from detaining workers underground after the mining company approached the labour court on an urgent basis on Monday.
NUM said it is worried that there are women within the hostages, adding that the incident is unacceptable.
The union has also called for law enforcement agencies to act swiftly to salvage the situation.
“It was only NUM that fought for women to work in the mining industry in South Africa. We did not fight for women to work in the mining industry to be held hostage,” the union said.