Women block gates at Lanxess mine, as underground strike continues

Rustenburg – Fuming women, some with babies on their backs, blocked the gates at a mine near Rustenburg on Tuesday, over concerns about their spouses who staged an underground sit-in since 19 June over recognition of their union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). 

Wives of the many men stuck underground at Lanxess Chrome mine operations in Bleskop prevented vehicles from entering the mine on Tuesday.

Bulelwa Bangindawo, 32, said she was  worried that her spouse and many others have not come to surface or eaten, since they stage a sit-in underground on June 19. 

About 280 Numsa members staged a sit-in underground demanding recognition of their union, the reinstatement of dismissed workers  and the suspension of an official accused of sexual harassment. 

"I am not sleeping at night wondering if he is well. To this moment I still cannot believe that he has been under ground for this long. I just want to see him face to face. Something must be done and they must get this food today," Bangindawo said. 

She was also concerned abouth their health. 

women3 - Women block gates at Lanxess mine, as underground strike continues
Women block gates at Lanxess Chrome Mine in Rustenburg, as the underground strike of National Union of Metalworkers members reaches its seventh day. Picture: ANA/Stringer

Zinzile Zondi, 38, said no vehicle would enter the mine if no food for her husband goes in. She said only dead people are left underground not living bodies. 

"We just saw bread and tea being brought back from inside the mine which was to be their breakfast. This means my husband and many others had their last meal on Monday night. These vehicles will only get in after the food has gone in," she said. 

Talks between Numsa and the mine collapsed on Monday night. 
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union appeal to the department of mineral resources to intervene. 

"Until the people underground are satisfied they will not come up. But ideally we would love for them to come up," she said.  

Lanxess Chrome Mine spokesperson Nomzamo Khanyile said the mine was not aware of any medical issues of the workers underground but medical assistance was on stand-by once workers came to the surface. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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