Acid goldmine water threatens orkney
21 April 2011 Leave a comment
Helping Hand food-aid supports the increasingly desperate 5,300 goldmine-workers’ families, owed R12million in backpay from the black owners of Aurora Empowerment Systems… who recently donated R1m to the African National Congress party to stop the ruling party from investigating this scandalous abuse of their workers…
April 21 2011 – AngloGold Ashanti has cut off the power-supply to the dysfunctional Aurora company goldmine in Orkney due to its payment-arrears. This means that the mine – which is co-owned by Nelson Mandela’s grandson and Jacob Zuma’s nephew — has stopped pumping its highly acid waste water. Environmental experts warn that the water is expected to breach soon and start polluting the surrounding area and the underground water-supplies, says Radio Pretoria.
5,300 mineworkers and their families – a total of 42,000 people — at the Grootvlei- and Orkney mines are owed R12-million in back-pay from the black-economic-empowerment company which recently donated R1million to the ruling African National Congress. The mineworkers meanwhile are being kept alive with food-donations from Solidarity trade union’s Helping Hand charity throughout the past year already while Aurora refuses to pay their salaries and pension-funds.
“The relief of the food need is an opportunity to prove that the community will not forsake its people,” said Dr Danie Langer, executive director of Solidarity Helping Hand charity.
“The mineworkers and their families have been surviving this entire past year without the necessary food, electricity and other provisions.” At their last food-delivery on April 14, the workers were told that Solidarity has sued the liquidators and bosses of Aurora of to get their unpaid salaries and pension fund money paid out. Only 16 of the 5,200 mineworkers who were employed by Aurora Empowerment Systems in May 2010, are today still in the company’s employment, said Langer.
Suicides due to Aurora ‘s neglect of its workers:
Helping Hand has also appointed a counsellor to assist Aurora employees because of the recent suicide of mineworker Marius Ferreira (52). Helping Hand has also been informed of at least three more suicide threats and even a person who threatened a family killing. “Due to the retrenchments at Aurora, the Solidarity Movement now experiences firsthand the results of one of the biggest human rights violations in the history of South Africa,” Langner said.
Solidarity Helping Hand has already distributed food parcels to the value of R400,000 to Aurora employees and their families.
Donation to ANC while workers go hungry yet another day
Cilleste van der Walt also reported that while the Aurora Empowerment Systems owners let their miners starve due to long-overdue salaries, Aurora’s boss donates R1million to the ANC This comes in the wake of the suicide of Marius Ferreira, a Solidarity member, last week after he and his family had lost everything they ever owned because his salary has remained unpaid for an entire year. Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus MP slammed Zuma’s R1m donation to the ANC as “scandalous”: “While workers at Aurora’s Grootvlei and Orkney mines are starving because their salaries are not being paid out, R1 million is available for the African National Congress party.”
Mr Gideon du Plessis, Solidarity’s deputy general said that any political party that accepts money from Zuma or any other Aurora director, would be accepting “blood money. “While Aurora’s owners live in luxury and have destroyed the mining assets through their looting, thousands of familieshave to rely on food hampers and the help of family members to survive. They’ve lost everything,” he added.
Groenewald said it is clear that Aurora tries to buy its influence from the ANC government. It is also clear why government is “reluctant” to intervene against Aurora despite the contravention of the country’s laws. “If the ANC is really serious about job-creation and have the interests of workers at heart, then it should refuse to accept this donation”, Groenewald said.
Aurora and liquidators of Pamodzi Gold, have blood on their hands following Aurora employee Marius Ferreira’s suicide
Solidarity, 8 April 2011 “Aurora Empowerment Systems and the liquidators of Pamodzi (Gold) have blood on their hands, trade union Solidarity said today. This comes after the suicide of Marius Ferreira, a Solidarity member, last week. He and his family had lost everything due to the non-payment of his salary for the past year. The trade union will claim Ferreira’s arrears salary for his widow said Gideon du Plessis, deputy gnl-secy of Solidarity. Ferreira was a fitter one of only ten employees left over from the original 5,200 who were hired by Aurora in 2009. He had specialised skills and kept the pumps going to stop the mine from overflowing its acid-water into the environment. Aurora owes the Ferreira family approximately R170,000.
“The fitter continued working at Aurora because he wanted to keep the pumps going…”
Du Plessis said: “He continued working unremittingly until his death, in spite of having lost his house, furniture and cars. According to his wife, Susan, the fact the he could no longer provide for his family took its toll and he ended his life by drinking ant poison.”
Solidarity Helping Hand appointed a counsellor to support Aurora employees after the trade union also heard of at least another three suicide threats and a person’s threat to commit a family murder. Before launching their court-case, the trade union shad sent Aurora two sets of letters of demands setting out arrears salaries exceeding R4,6million. The trade union estimates that the outstanding claims – including the workers’ pension funds which are still being withheld as well – could amount to as much as R12million.
“We buried Marius Ferreira last weekend, but his claim will not be buried in the Aurora debacle. We will continue to fight for everyone who needs our help,” Du Plessis concluded.