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Court reserves ruling on Harmony hostels

Jan 23 2013 18:20 Sapa
Mining

On January 3, workers were told the mine had been shut down until further notice, in order to review operations after several illegal strikes. (File) (Shutterstock)

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Johannesburg - Judgment in an application by miners affiliated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to gain access to Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine hostel was reserved in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"I am aware that this is a matter of urgency. I will endeavour to finalise my judgment as soon as possible," Judge Ndawoyakhe Tshabalala said.

He would not provide a date.

During the application, Tshabalala expressed concerns for the safety of miners and the mine if access was granted.

Frans Barrie SC, for Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR], argued that rivalry between Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers had resulted in violence.

He said violence erupted at the mine after Amcu held illegal meetings at the stadium on the hostel's premises, between October and December 2012.

He said two miners were hacked to death and a security guard was shot. The mine was concerned for the safety of 37 essential service employees still on the premises.

Ivan Miltz SC, for the miners, argued that some workers had nowhere else to go. It later emerged in court that this applied to only two of the 50 miners represented in the application.

"A matter of urgency cannot be granted on two employees out of 1 800," Barrie said.

Harmony Gold offered to pay for the miners to be taken home.

Responding to Barrie's accusation that the application was a "membership drive for Amcu", Miltz said more people would have returned on January 3.

"One wouldn't have had 400. There would have been thousands," he said.

On January 3, workers were told the mine had been shut down until further notice, in order to review operations after several illegal strikes.

Miners were locked out of the hostel and many slept outside the gates.

In December, 1 700 workers at the Kusasalethu mine had a sit-in demanding that their fellow employees, who had been suspended, be reinstated.

Miltz said the behaviour of the 50 miners was peaceful and that there had been no violence.

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mines  |  strikes
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