Implats workers attacked with knobkerries
Johannesburg - A man was killed and six Impala Platinum (Implats) workers in Rustenburg were assaulted overnight, a mine spokesperson said on Friday.
"The police discovered the badly-beaten body of a man in the Freedom Park development," Implats executive Johan Theron said in a statement.
"He has not yet been identified, but items lying next to him indicate that he could be a contractor working at one of the shafts," he said.
North West police spokesperson, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane, said the 54-year-old Mozambican was found murdered at about 06:30 on Friday, at the RDP houses near number nine Impala Shaft in Phokeng.
The death brings to three the number of people killed in violence related to an illegal strike at Implats.
"The SA Police Service condemns all the attacks taking place at Impala mines," Ngubane said.
He said the man who died and two others, who were seriously injured, were attacked by unidentified people with knobkerries at three different locations while on their way to work.
The injured men were taken to the Impala and Job Tabane Shimankana hospitals, he said. No arrests had been made.
Theron said another four Implats employees assaulted overnight were being treated in the mine hospital.
He said their families had been contacted and arrangements had been made for them to travel to the hospital.
Theron said Implats condemned the violence in the strongest possible terms. "It is totally unacceptable that criminal elements are taking advantage of an already volatile situation," he said.
Workers at Implats downed tools over a month ago. As a result, about 17 200 workers were dismissed. Implats said they could apply to be re-employed, but the process has been hampered by violent intimidation.
"We are appealing to those on the illegal work stoppage to return to work in order for their grievances and demands to be considered," said Theron.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Cosatu and Implats will meet on Friday afternoon to try to resolve the situation.
Call to return to work
Implats said dismissed workers who reapplied for their jobs would start afresh with the company and lose any accumulated benefits.
However, the workers want to be reinstated without losing benefits.
On Thursday afternoon, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addressed the ex-miners and urged them to return to work.
Theron said that by Thursday, about 8 500 people had been re-employed.
The North West government said on Thursday that a settlement agreement had been reached between the NUM and Implats for the unconditional re-employment of dismissed workers.
Theron denied this.
"Yesterday was just feedback after the mass meeting and to try and say we are still committed to finding a solution," he said.
NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said there had been informal discussions after the meeting indicating that Implats might consider reinstatement of jobs.
"Although the company did not commit to that, they indicated that they are quite willing to look at the issues of reinstatement... that was verbal though," Seshoka said.
The illegal strike started when rock-drill operators downed tools over unhappiness that they had not received a retention bonus, while miners had.
Earlier this month, Implats CEO David Brown said the drillers had refused to involve the NUM in addressing their issues, and that a new union, the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu), was exploiting employee dissatisfaction in this regard.
Implats Rustenburg was losing 3 000 platinum ounces a day, which amounted to about R65m a day in lost revenue.