SOUTH AFRICA: MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR DEAD MINE WORKERS

Published on October 13, 2021

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In the wake of South Africa’s latest mining disaster in which 104 miners were killed last week, international experts are discussing ways in which to improve safety on mines and in factories.

The international conference hosted by the National Occupational Safety Association will continue discussing the issue today (Thursday).

Yesterday (Wednesday) miners and the families of the dead gather on mine property for a memorial service.

It’s exactly a week since the Vaal Reefs Gold Mine accident in which a mine locomotive plunged down a shaft and crushed a lift carrying the night shift workers.

President Nelson Mandela, who visited the scene on Monday, called on the public to observe a national day of mourning yesterday (Wednesday.)

Since gold was discovered in South Africa in the 1880s the
industry has relied on a cheap labour force, mainly black men from
the rural areas of the country and from neighbouring states.

While conditions have improved slowly over the years, it took the installation of Mandela’s government last May to give the mining industry a friendly nudge in the direction of better worker relations.

An inquiry set up by Mandela to investigate the disaster needs to
examine who or what was to blame for the accident. But the focus is
very firmly on ensuring better safety on the mines.

SOUND BITE:
“It definitely is a tragedy for South Africa. We at Nosa must
look at ourselves and have a look at when the findings of the Vaal
Reefs tragedy come out. We need to have a look at what happened and see if we ourselves can improve in anyway possible to pre-empt such things happening again.”
SUPER CAPTION: Bryan Keague, operations manager of the National Occupational Safety Association

SOUND BITE:
“It was terrible and we are sorry that people died and I think
if stricter measures were taken the accident could have been
averted.”
SUPER CAPTION: Boney Mogotsi, occupational health officer

The accident came at a time too when the world’s largest gold
producer seems to be losing it’s grip on the market – the gold
mines shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were down 39% as compared to the same time last year.

The main reason is that South Africa is still mining the same mines as it was 100 years ago and miners are now having to go deeper into the ground to get the gold.

The result has been a rise in labour costs and a drop in safety standards.

Clearly the mine owners must take a long hard look at safety as
they try to negotiate the minefield of creeping competition even
within Africa.

SOUND BITE:

“Well, the mine disaster actually puts us in a position we
should emphasize the need for safety and I believe that probably if
the safety was viewed with concern, it should be taking that mine
disaster could not probably have happened.”
SUPER CAPTION: Dr William Sakari, director of Occupational Health Safety Services, Kenya.

Political changes and a more labour-friendly government means
that this mine disaster will be thoroughly probed. South Africa’s
Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Pik Botha visited the mine last
week and has added his voice to the call for an enquiry.

SOUND BITE:
“It is obvious that there will have to be a very proper and
thorough investigation when this matter – it is impossible at least
for me to in the time that I have here – it is too complex. We will
have to get a very proper enquiry.”
SUPER CAPTION: Pik Botha, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs.

President Nelson Mandela visited the mine himself on Monday but
steered clear of blaming either workers or management.

He simply went personally to investigate and to offer his
condolences to the workers. His donation of part of his salary to

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/ecc0e90f31ede7b16f068859bce608b6
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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