headgear thumb medium80 122Allan Seccombe writes that for a mining company to deal with four deaths and the difficult, dangerous recovery of those bodies is one thing, but to deal with an unfounded, racist diatribe from a union about those rescue efforts adds a nasty and unnecessary element.  

National Union of Mineworkers president (NUM) Joseph Montisetse made the astonishing allegation that the “lily-white proto team” deliberately stopped rescue efforts by miners to save four of their colleagues at the Tau Lekoa gold mine after an underground tremor on 7 December.  The words “lily white” were used 10 times in a statement that alleged the rescue teams “only care about eating and drinking underground while the brave black mineworkers are the ones in the coalface to try to save the lives of their colleagues”.  Seccombe notes that SA’s mines rely heavily on volunteer rescue teams called proto teams when things go wrong.  As regards Montisetse’s claim of “lily white” teams ignoring the plight of the trapped miners, he points out that the person in the control room at Tau Lekoa managing the racially diverse proto teams was black.  There are 137 proto teams based at SA’s mines, with 937 members serving 115 mines.  Of those members, 39% are historically disadvantaged South Africans employed on mines.  Seccombe says that to racialise the Tau Lekoa tragedy and to cast unfounded aspersions on the 13 teams of volunteers that rushed to the site from other mines, was a disgrace.  In his view, the NUM and its president owe the 13 proto teams involved in the Tau Lekoa disaster, as well as the industry, an apology.


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