The South African Federation of Trade Unions is alarmed by the rising number of violent and sometimes fatal attacks on workers. In just this month of October so far there have been a spate of such incidents, including;
1. The murder of two workers, Mxolisi Mkhize and Moses Magama, who were burnt to death in Mariannhill on 14 October, allegedly by their employer, a tow-truck company owner. They were doused with petrol which was set alight while their hands were tied. Both died in hospital.
The accused, Mthokozisi Mbambo, was granted bail in the Pinetown Magistrate’s court. He faced two counts of murder and the matter was adjourned until November 28. SAFTU has already condemned this murder and demanded the maximum punishment for the perpetrator.
2. Six days later on 20 October five tow-truck drivers were shot at a service station in Durban. Two of them sustained fatal injuries.The drivers were ambushed by armed men who arrived in a vehicle with tinted windows who fired randomly at the workers. One died at the scene, four were taken to hospital where one later died. No arrests have been made.
3. The same weekend, six armed men stormed an electricity substation in Mulbarton, Johannesburg South. The robbers overpowered the two security guards who were guarding the substation which is undergoing a major upgrade. They broke into the storage and loaded a 500-metre drum of cable and five 75mm copper cables into the truck.
When a Johannesburg City Power electrician, who was working on a nearby outage, arrived at the substation to trace the outage fault, he was also held and tied up. The guards and electrician were robbed of three cellphones and the electrician’s toolbox, valued at around R3500. A case of armed robbery has been opened.
The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) has condemned the recent string of an “unbridled killing spree of security guards in different parts of South Africa”.
4. On 10 October Eric Ngobese and Boykie Moyo were gunned down near Maponya Mall in Soweto. The video clip of this horrific incident was captured on the dashboard camera of their patrol vehicle and has since gone viral on social media.
5. “While the private security industry was still reeling from this shock,” says the PSiRA CEO, Manabela Chauke, “another callous shooting happened in Ntshongweni, KwaZulu-Natal where two security officers, both in their twenties, were shot at and sustained critical injuries…
“An attack on security officers is tantamount to an onslaught against the state,” he said. “PSiRA will therefore lend its support to the police to ensure that the perpetrators of these barbaric acts are apprehended as swiftly as possible as it would be somewhat, a welcome relief to the deceased’s families and the industry at large”.
SAFTU supports PSiRA’s appeal to South African communities to assist in police efforts to track down the killers, but also demands that they, and all other employers, must do much more to protect their staff.
6. A dreadful few days ended with the news that two mine workers lost their lives on 20 October.
A Harmony employee died after falling from a height, while working in a shaft at the Kusasalethu mine, near Carletonville while a fall-of-ground claimed the life of an Amplats employee working at the Dishaba mine in Amandelbult.
These deaths bring the number of mining fatalities up to 71 so far this year, at which rate we could see a higher annual total than the 88 who lost their lives in the mines in 2017.
SAFTU demands an agent investigation into the cause of these accidents and repeats its demand for the mining employers to be held criminally liable for fatal accidents in their mines.
After such a grim week for workers, the federation demands that workers’ safety and security must be given a much higher priority and that all employers, as well as the mines owners, must be held responsible for the lives and well-being of their workers, and be penalised for failing to provide measures to protect them from attacks and serious accidents.