• 300 get suspension letters for refusing to board the cage
• Accused of ‘rioting behaviour leading to loss of production’
The recent accident that claimed the lives of four BCL employees could have been avoided, The Patriot on Sunday investigations have established. The four miners perished when the rope of the cage/General Man Transport (GMT) snapped while transporting them after their shifts. The other six were critically injured and hospitalised. According to information passed to this publication on the on-going investigation, it has been shown that the management knew about the malfunction of the cage in March this year but did nothing. The report has shown that the cage in the South East Extension shaft went for routine maintenance on the 6th of March 2016. Immediately after the maintenance, the cage experienced mechanical problems making scary warbling sound on the guide/rails. “There were fire sparks and smell of burning and at some stage the cage jammed. A strained rope and/or kink of metal were also reported to the management,” reads the report.
As per section 37 of the Mines, Quarries, Workers and Machinery Act, the incident was supposed to have been reported to the inspector of mines within 24 hours. This, allegedly, did not happen. Part of the act reads thus, “(2) The occurrences which are required to be reported are— (i) the fracture or failure to work efficiently of any essential part, including a winding rope and all its attachments to the conveyance or drum, sheaves, shafts, axles or bearings, brakes, gearing, depth indicators or drums; (ii) the jamming or overloading of any part of the winding plant or the derailment of any conveyance which results in the possible overstrain of the rope. Instead mine management engaged riggers to fix the strained rope of the cage. The reason allegedly given was that the mine was still struggling financially to engage professional experts.
Employees are said to have voiced their concern and some refused to board the cage fearing for the safety. In response BCL Management slapped 300 of them with suspension letters and accused them of ‘rioting behaviour leading to loss of production.’ Currently government has engaged South African experts to investigate the cause of the accident and to determine if there was no negligence from the management.