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Cosatu blames government, mining sector for Welkom zama zama deaths

18 May 2017 - 18:06 By TMG Digital

The failure to properly close old mine shafts has created orphans and cost poor artisanal workers their lives‚ the Congress of South African Trade Unions says.

Noting "with deep shock and alarm the unrelenting deaths of artisanal miners all across the country and more recently at Eland Shaft in Welkom‚ the union federation issued a call for urgent action.

"This has now become a reckless dereliction of duty by both government and mining sector.

  • 'One hundred percent of him is gone' - families gather to identify Welkom zama zamasDozens of families from across southern Africa have gathered outside a small Free State mortuary praying the news they have received this week is not true. 

"Government cannot continue to explain away these senseless deaths and the mining sector cannot pretend that these incidents have nothing to do with them.

"Mine owners have to deal with the fact that they are primarily responsible for creating an environment‚ where people are dying like flies every day."

  • Zama zama body count rises after mine explosion in the Free StateThe death toll continues to rise after an explosion at a disused mine in the Free State which by Wednesday had claimed the lives of 29 illegal miners. 

Cosatu said both government and mining companies should "urgently put measures in place to make amends and clean up the mess that they have created all across the country".

"We want to hear them offering concrete proposals on how they are going to improve in implementing mine closures‚ especially considering the mining industry’s poor environmental legacy. We still see many mines being abandoned‚ with mine shafts left open‚ resulting in the development of contaminated mine water.

  • Zama zamas‚ backed by BLF‚ protest against 'illegal mine'Informal miners in Kimberley in the Northern Cape have protested against mining company Ekapa‚ which the miners claim has been operating without a permit. 

"This has spawned this tragic phenomenon of illegal mining.

"...Government needs to do more to monitor the implementation of the current financial assurance policies that are meant to help with the rehabilitation of closed mines. "