Anglo American Platinum has confirmed that an incident occurred on Monday at its Siphumelele mine in the Rustenburg area, involving members of the Workers Committee and NUM shop stewards.
Reports were conflicting, with Reuters quoting the South African Police Service (SAPS) as saying there were 13 injured, and others saying that there was a fatality. Amplats however states that 12 people were injured during a clash between workers committee members and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) with no mention of a fatality.
“Workers committee members are contesting NUM’s legitimacy at the mine and demanding that NUM vacate its offices. The company is currently in the process of validating union membership at Rustenburg and the mines north of the Pilanesburg,” it states.
Amplats says nine employees were injured when rubber bullets were fired by Anglo American Platinum security personnel. “As they were attempting to evacuate the NUM shop stewards who were trapped in their offices, three security personnel sustained minor injuries during this incident. All 12 injured employees received medical attention for non-life threatening injuries. No one was fatally injured during this incident.”
"Workers committee members are contesting NUM’s legitimacy at the mine and demanding that NUM vacate its offices. The Company is currently in the process of validating union membership at Rustenburg and the mines north of the Pilanesburg, the company said.
According to National Union of Mineworkers spokesman, Lesiba Seshoka, union officials were assaulted on Monday when they tried to reopen the office, that has been closed since the strikes at the mine last year. He states that one person died.
Seshoka told Mineweb, "Our offices were reopened today and some guys came into our offices and started assaulting our official. Then security was called on to the scene, then shooting ensued. Five security guards were admitted to hospital. One guy died, four other AMCU guys were also injured and are now in hospital. One of our guys who was assaulted is also in hospital.
"We are very disappointed by these developments, we had hoped that we would see more stability in the mining sector. We are disappointed that there are still criminal elements within the industry who want to shut our offices by hook or by crook.
"This is not about wanting to reopen our offices, our offices were reopened today. People attacked it. Attacked our official. As normal we requested security to say that workers are not safe there they are being attacked, when security arrived it was sorted," he added.
When contacted by Mineweb, AMCU said it was still busy gathering evidence before it would comment.
Amplats has expressed its “deep concern” about the incident and appealed to employees to respect the company’s dispute resolution process.
Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, in January raised the ire of labour and the government when it said it planned to mothball two South African mines, sell another and cut 14,000 jobs.
The world's largest platinum producer was hit by violent strikes last year, sparked in large part by a turf battle between rivals unions for membership.
Shares of Amplats were down 4.85% at R442.94 at 17h00.