Gold One: HRC must not overlook ‘racism’ at mine

Henry

Solidarity says it expects real and speedy action from the Human Rights Commission (HRC) after the recent “racial attacks” at the Gold One gold mine outside Springs.

RNews previously reported on the hundreds of miners who were previously held hostage for five days at the Modder-Oos mine. Some of the white workers were assaulted with pickaxes, boards and pipes, while a black colleague who tried to intervene at one stage was also severely assaulted. Ultimately, workers from various unions were victims of the violence.

After the hostage drama, which followed shortly after a similar incident in October at the mine, Solidarity also lodged a complaint with the HRC. In this, emphasis is placed on the claims of miners that white workers were singled out for violence and humiliation by violent strikers who posed as representatives of the trade union Amcu.

In its complaint to the HRC, Solidarity claims that workers were forced to return to work under the threat of “no-work-no-payment” despite warnings to the mine management about the imminent repetition of the October events.

“Another day without production proved non-negotiable,” reads the complaint.

Solidarity further claims comments by those responsible for the underground detention included “there are enough whites here to force them (the mine management) to listen”. A white worker was later used to take a letter with the union’s demands to the mine management above ground, but only after the man – after a serious assault – was forced to strip naked, dance and chant the words “Viva, Amcu ” exclaiming, the complaint states.

“This criminality, violence and humiliation was mercilessly sustained and to such an extreme extent that a black colleague who then tried to help his white colleague was so assaulted that he lost consciousness, dragged away and in a dark tunnel to his death under a bag was left.”

Solidarity argues that the actions of Amcu, its members and/or criminal supporters and sympathizers are “not only undemocratic, but also represent a serious violation of the human rights of our members and all other hostages”.

Given the circumstances, the discriminatory comment, death threats, humiliation and violent attacks, Solidarity asks the HRC to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the actions of Amcu, as well as its members and supporters or sympathizers.

There is also a call for an investigation into the actions of Gold One’s management and their failure to intervene to ensure the health and safety of workers, despite warnings about this and the possibility that the company could be held indirectly liable for the alleged human rights abuses .

“A thorough investigation and appropriate action afterwards will not only affect members of Solidarity, but also the rights of all other miners whose dignity has been affected on various levels, including through racial discrimination,” says Solidarity in a statement.

Dr. Dirk Hermann, managing director of Solidarity, says the hostage drama at Gold One is related to crime and labor relations, but also to “abuses of power”.

“According to its mandate, the HRC is obliged to investigate and take action. This is gross racial violence. We are not going to allow anarchism to become the norm and also expect this from the management, the appropriate ministers, the police and the HRC,” says Hermann.