Abandoned widows, kids march to Assmang

2008-03-27 00:00

Widows and families who lost their loved ones while working at Assmang marched to the company in Cato Ridge yesterday to demand compensation and monies due to them from the company.

Wives and children of Assmang employees killed in the recent furnace explosion and those who died while working at the company since 2007 claim that the company has abandoned them.

About a dozen women clothed in black mourning dresses and children marched to the manganese plant and demanded answers regarding the monies due to them.

The workers killed in the February blast are Nhlanhla Ngcobo, Alfred Mtolo, Mzomuhle Gcumisa, Vusi Kubheka, Samora Maduna and Bhekithemba "Keto" Ndlovu.

Other families who previously lost their loved ones while working at the factory also confronted management about their grievances. A meeting was held in the plant between management and the families.

According to one woman, who lost her fiancé in the furnace blast, the company has failed to take care of the families. "Most of the people who died during that blast were breadwinners and families were left with no income. We get nothing from Assmang, instead they have told us that they will process our finances after we have done the cleansing rituals." It is alleged that the company loaned the families money for funerals.

"Some families received R15 000 from the company and R10 000 of that money will be deducted from the provident fund," said Dumisani Ngubane speaking on behalf of the Gcumisa family. "It’s ridiculous what they are saying, what business does the company have with the cleansing ceremony? Assmang management is abusing their position and taking advantage of illiterate widows."

It is alleged that management offered to loan the families money to be recovered when the funds have been processed after the cleansing rituals.

The company had promised counselling to family members of the six victims, but families have denied getting any counselling.

Attempts to get a response from Assmang senior general manager, Princess Thwala, drew a blank. The Witness was told that she was in a meeting.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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