Hostage drama unfolds at Limpopo mine

Employees at a Phalaborwa copper mine say Amcu members are refusing to allow them to leave the premises over a wage dispute with the company.

A mine. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – A hostage situation is playing out at a Phalaborwa copper mine in Limpopo, where employees are being held against their will.

Employees say Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members are refusing to allow them to leave the premises.

The union members are on strike after talks with the company’s management deadlocked.

The union is demanding a 12% wage increase. The company has offered 7%.

Amcu spokesperson Neo Manke says the union has been negotiating in good faith but the company is being arrogant.

“We have requested several meetings with the company to resolve the dispute of the backlog and unfortunately the company was not moving.”

One of the company’s employees, Bernice Roberts, says they are not being allowed to the leave the premises.

“We are at the mine, the MPC people are stuck at the mine. We can’t get out of the mine, they won’t let us out.”

Police in Limpopo say while they know about the hostage situation at the copper mine, they haven’t officially confirmed it, and as a result, they've not deployed officers to handle it.

While police spokesperson Moatsi Ngoepe confirms that police are at the mine for safety and security reasons, he says they are not dealing with the hostage situation.

“I got that, but I did not yet confirm that it is a hostage. I am still waiting for an update because I trust the members to confirm it for me.”

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)