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SAHRC launches preliminary probe into strike at Sibanye-Stillwater mines

Representatives from the commission met with mine management, union representatives and police on Wednesday.

Amcu led a march through Johannesburg on 22 January 2019 as Sibanye-Stillwater workers demanded salary increases. Picture: Ayanda Nyathi/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched a preliminary investigation into disruptions at Sibanye Stillwater's mines.

Representatives from the commission met with mine management, union representatives and police on Wednesday.

About 15,000 workers affiliated to Amcu have been on strike for almost five months at the Driefontein, Kloof and Beatrix mines.

Nine people have died since the strike started.

The SAHRC’s Buang Jones said Wednesday’s visit to Sibanye’s offices formed part of a fact-finding mission.

“Our involvement involves looking at the human rights elements to the strike and the deaths.”

He said they had hoped Amcu, as the only union that did not sign a wage agreement, would be present at the meeting.

“The commission will initiate contact with Amu to secure a meeting because we need to hear their side of the story before making a final determination.”

Jones said from the information gathered at the meeting and submissions from all who attended, they’d determine whether a public inquiry might be needed.

TALKS OVER

Sibanye-Stillwater management said it was no longer in the position to reopen wage negotiations with miners affiliated to union Amcu.

The company’s head of stakeholder relations Thabisile Phumo said they had made offers to Amcu in order for miners to return to work but the union has refused them.

“Debt consolidation, a soft loan to them, assistance with the coming back to work and we’ve also paid money towards their pensions funds and medical aids. But we’re also paying for their food and accommodation.”

She said they would approach the Labour Court next week to ensure Amcu workers returned to work soon.

“We will put out case forward. Now that coalition is fifty plus one.”

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