Gold One miners resurface following hostage situation
Mantashe said a criminal case has been opened with the police.
A large group of miners underground are staging a sit-in at Gold One operations in Springs. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
Miners at Gold One’s Modder Easter operations in Springs started resurfacing on Monday after four days underground.
According to AFP, some raised their fist in the air as they walked past a security fence near the mine entrance.
More than 400 mineworkers were participating in what is claimed to be a sit-in protest against recent dismissals and a lack of recognition for union Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union).
On Sunday, Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe called for police intervention as the situation got violent.
Mantashe said that a criminal case had been opened with the police.
He visited the mine on Saturday and said the situation had turned violent.
“We were in Gold One yesterday [Saturday], trying to resolve the sit-in, where we dealt with the demands of the mineworkers and try to understand why they are having a sit-in,” said Mantashe on Sunday evening.
“But today [Sunday], the situation changed dramatically and it became a hostage drama in the sense that three people came from underground heavily beaten and once you begin to beat people up, it means they’re held hostage, they’re underground against their own will and should be dealt with as an offence that requires police intervention.”
The mine’s legal head, Ziyaad Hassan, said on Monday morning that although the situation remained critical, they hoped to resolve the matter today.
“The situation remains critical, there was an unfortunate escalation of violence underground yesterday. On Friday and Saturday things remained fairly calm, but yesterday we received reports of at least 10 assaults, [and] several attempts to escape underground,” Hassan told Newzroom Afrika.
“Eight people were released on Sunday evening and one of them is recovering in hospital. We are assessing the health situation of others. We had another report this morning that four more employees would be released.”
He said although the police were on site, they were reluctant to engage with the miners directly and insisted on negotiating with them.
“They are reluctant to go underground. We are hopeful about resolving the matter today but extremely concerned about the safety of employees underground,” he said.
He said while others were staging a sit-in, some were being held against their will.
Those who staged a sit-in were doing so in solidarity with the 70 employees who were dismissed following the first sit-in in October.
The employees claim to be acting for Amcu, but the union has distanced itself from the situation, said Hassan.