Aurora miner commits suicide
Johannesburg - A Pamodzi Gold miner who was owed R170 000 in outstanding wages by Aurora Empowerment Systems has committed suicide, the Solidarity trade union said on Friday.
Marius Ferreira, 52, died last week after drinking ant poison. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the non-payment of Ferreira's salary caused him to lose his house, two cars, his house contents, his retirement annuities and his medical aid.
"Marius Ferreira... and his family had lost everything due to the non-payment of his salary. The trade union will claim Ferreira's salary arrears for his widow," said Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis.
"Marius, who was a fitter, was one of the only ten employees left over from the 5 200 employees who started working for Aurora in 2009. According to his wife, Susan, the fact the he could no longer provide for his family took its toll and he ended his life by drinking ant poison," said Du Plessis.
Ferreira died last Tuesday and was laid to rest at the weekend.
Du Plessis said Solidarity had appointed a counsellor to support Aurora employees after the trade union "heard of at least another three suicide threats and a person's threat to commit a family murder".
He said Solidarity had already sent Aurora two sets of letters of demand for arrears in salaries exceeding R4.6m.
"We buried Marius Ferreira last weekend, but his claim will not be buried in the Aurora debacle. We will continue to fight for everyone who needs our help," said Du Plessis.
Earlier this week, one of the joint Pamodzi Gold liquidators, Enver Motala, said Aurora had been warned to produce proof of irreversible financial commitment by a Chinese company or face the cancellation of their bid for Pamodzi by the end of May.
Last year, Aurora announced it had secured enough funding to buy Pamodzi's Grootvlei (Springs) and Orkney mines, which at that stage employed some 5 000 workers, from its liquidators.
But red tape and empty promises left the miners unpaid, while operations at the mines had ground to a halt.