The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Wednesday called for the shutdown of mines belonging to Sibanye-Stillwater, saying that it was “extremely worried” by the death of two mineworkers who were trapped underground at Sibanye”s Kloof gold mine after a rock fall incident.

Sibanye confirmed that two workers died at the Ikamva 4 Shaft at its Kloof gold mine, southwest of Johannesburg, after an accident in the early hours of the morning. 

The death of these workers came just a week after more than 1,100 miners were trapped underground at Beatrix gold mine in the Free State province, after a power outage at the mine caused by a severe storm in the area. They were all brought to surface safely after two nights underground. 

“We find it very unacceptable that the accident in Beatrix did not prompt the company to pay more attention to issues of health and safety,” Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said in a statement.

“The national union calls for legislation that penalises companies who fail to put mechanisms in place to prevent the loss of lives in mines. The maximisation of profit must never at all material times supersede the wellness of workers. In this regard, we support the call by Cosatu for a total shutdown of all operation by Sibanye Stillwater in the country with immediate effect.”

Operations at the Kloof mine have been halted until an investigation by the department of mineral resources is completed.

Saphetha said that Nehawu would be meeting with its sister union, the National Union of Mineworkers, very soon with a view of organising a march against the minister of mineral resources. He said Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was not ensuring that mining companies complied with safety standards.

 – African News Agency (ANA)