NUM disturbed after mine allegedly kept Covid-19 case secret

Mines are being allowed to re-opened by government.

The Mogalakwena Mine in Limpopo registered the first case of Covid-19 in the mining industry after they were granted permission to operate during the lockdown.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in Limpopo said they were “highly disturbed and extremely shocked” to learn that one of the mines to register the first case of Covid-19 during lockdown kept quiet about the matter.

The Mogalakwena Mine, which is situated next to Mokopane, Limpopo, is owned by Anglo American.

NUM North East Regional Secretary Phillip Mankge said: “It came as a shock to everyone’s ears during the meeting which was held between the company, department of mineral resources and energy and NUM when the company disclosed to have been the first company to register the first case of Covid-19, but decided to keep it secret.

“The reason behind that is only informed by the company being greedy and focusing on profits. General manager Richard Cox claims to be misinformed by the occupational medical practitioner.”

Mankge said the reason why the general manager decided to hide this case was that Mogalakwena Mine was one of the mines to be granted permission to operate during the first period of lockdown.

“The mine took a stupid decision to hide this case to avoid jeopardising their chances of being denied the opportunity to maximise profits. Covid-19 is a killer virus and the government has directed mines to resume operations at 50% capacity and issued clear guidelines to the mines to adhere to the regulations,” he said.

The secretary said the union was further disturbed by another company in Steelpoort Glencore Lion Smelter which deliberately misinterpreted regulation 11J chapter 4 of Disaster management Act 2002 amendment of regulations issued in terms of section 27 (2).

He said the general manager Andre Van Zyl was claiming to be producing energy and petroleum.

“We have been engaging with this company for some time now, but in vain. We, therefore, call upon department of labour Minister Thulas Nxesi and his inspectors in Limpopo province to send inspectors to stop this operation,” he said.

Mankge further said the union was worried by the number of cases already confirmed since the mines were allowed to resume operation on a 50% capacity in Limpopo province.

“We have about five confirmed cases of Covid-19 and this call for an urgent call to Limpopo provincial government to be radical and enforce measures to flatten the curve,” he said.

He said another mine that was reported to have a Covid-19 case was Tubatse Alloys Smelter, which registered the case on the 9 May.

“Tubatse Alloys Smelter is situated next to Driekop where the first case of Covid-19 in Sekhukhune was first reported. Lastly, the NUM calls upon the community and workers to adhere to lockdown rules by staying at home, wash their hands regularly and sanitise,” he said.

(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)

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