LOOK BACK: Fatal accidents at Sibanye mines this year


Minworkers pictured outside Sibanye-Stillwater mine.

JOHANNESBURG - Eighteen people have died at Sibanye-Stillwater mines so far this year.

Here are some of the accidents that have cast a shadow over the company’s operations.

January 29: About 950 miners are trapped underground for 33 hours because of a power outage at the Beatrix mine in Theunissen, Free State.

They are all safely brought to the surface. 

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says the mine should have had contingency plans to deal with power cuts and urges workers to refuse to work in dangerous conditions.

February 7: Just a few days later, two mineworkers are not as fortunate, dying in a rockfall at Sibanye’s Kloof mine on the West Rand.

The company says the rock fall might have been caused by seismic activity.

February 12: Less than a week later there is another fatality, this time at Sibanye’s Driefontein operations, on the West Rand.

March 23: A worker dies at the Khuseleka mine in Rustenburg.

May 3: Seven workers die after a seismic event at the Driefontein mine, an incident Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe describes as a disaster.

At a memorial service, unions are united in their criticism of the country’s mine-safety track record.

"Our voice as workers will be dignified and respected by the employers when we are united," says NUM general secretary David Sipunzi. "Our differences in our affiliation don’t mean we must forget that the employer remains the workers’ biggest enemy.”

READ: Mining safety in the spotlight

Solidarity&39;s Paul Mardon says: “It is our plea that all workers in South African mines remember to exercise your right to withdraw from unsafe working conditions and we implore employers to respect this right.”

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa says the Health and Safety Act is unable to hold employers criminally liable for exposing workers to unsafe conditions. "The state is favouring foreign direct investment over the protection of its citizens,” he says.

Sibanye-Stillwater says the incident occurred at a time when the company was working on improving safety.

“I wish to say to every employee working at Stillwater, we don’t condone working in unsafe working condition, we heard unions calling for safe working conditions, we want the same and we expect that right to be exercised. If there are constraints in doing that please bring it to management&39;s attention so that we can ensure you have that right to withdraw,” says CEO Neal Froneman.

Less than two weeks ago, another worker was killed in a rockfall at the same mine.

In 2017, 88 miners died in South African mines.))