Calls for Mantashe to intervene in mine ‘hostage’ standoff
No end in sight for hijacked mine hostages
The GoldOne mine in Springs, 24 October 2023. Over 500 miners are allegedly being held hostage underground by members of AMCU since Sunday. . Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
There is still no end to the hijacked GoldOne mine “hostage” situation in Modder-East, Springs on Johannesburg’s East Rand.
On Sunday night armed Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) members allegedly captured the property and held around 543 miners hostage, 480 of them underground.
GoldOne spokesperson John Horicourt told The Citizen the situation is rapidly approaching where ministerial intervention would be needed to try and end the standoff.
“We have reached out to the Department of Minerals and Resources, but thus far there has been no response.”
DA Ekurhuleni council whip Simon Lapping called on Minister Gwede Mantashe to intervene immediately.
“We cannot afford to tolerate this kind of thuggery in South Africa. If nothing is done, quickly, it is tantamount to an open invitation to anyone to simply go ahead, and claim what is not theirs, either as a means to an end or to simply steal from others.
“Non-action by the ANC-led government, in my opinion, translates to condonement of such action.”
Previously, The Citizen reported the underground captors were not allowing injured workers to be taken to the surface for treatment.
A paramedic that was stationed underground also remains imprisoned and when GoldOne was allowed to send an additional medic underground to assist late yesterday, both the medic and the accompanying security officer were taken captive, too.
“We have subsequently sent medication underground as there are several employees who have chronic conditions that need assistance. Packaged medication was sent down in the cage for receipt underground,” said Horicourt.
Additional first aid equipment and medicines were also sent down. But Horicourt said it was impossible to know whether or not it reached the intended recipients.
There are water supplies available in the mine and presently GoldOne are mulling means to get food to the captives. “But if we send food down, the question is whether or not their captors would distribute it,” said Haricourt.
Amcu denies claims
Amcu denied reports its members were holding miners hostage.
“Whatever they [the miners] decided in the previous night that they are not going to come out. To us, it looked like a concerted effort.
“That was a voluntary situation. Now management is trying to play it, saying it’s a hostage situation and people are being held against their will. So we are not sure of that situation at this point in time,” general secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele told the SABC.
GoldOne also obtained an interdict overnight that outlawed a proposed strike by Amcu that is related to the hijacking of the mine.
Failed attempts to gain a strike certificate at the CCMA left the union, who remain unrecognised by the company, without legal means to prompt members to down tools.
The National Union of Mineworkers is the only organised labour representative with a recognition agreement in place.
“We hope that the police will intervene and disburse the on-surface protests as soon as possible,” said Haricourt.
Mining security expert Marius van der Merwe of QRF Task Team told The Citizen, “hijacking a mine and taking such a large number of hostages takes massive organisation”.
Haricourt said yesterday the mine was reliant on senior Amcu members to negotiate the release of the hostages and to diffuse the situation. Emergency services and private security continue to maintain a visible presence.