In Maandagshoek Driekop, Limpopo, COVID-19 is attacking the mines or the mine workers. The problem is in most Anglo American mines. In Difagate, also in Limpopo, there is an Anglo American platinum mine which is surrounding the Maandagshoek small villages. This is where workers are mostly affected. The villages in the area are surrounded by small and big hills and mountains. It has also about three to four artisanal or illegal mining operations of chrome. Operations are mostly in mine premises and in people’s yards. The area is a rural settlement. It is ruled by tribal authorities and the municipality is also in control of other services.
The mine workers are residents in the areas situated in the nearby villages. As we know that Anglo American have their own equipped clinics where their workers go to. As mines are operating and production is continuing, the health of mine workers and that of the communities are at risk. Anglo American mines around here have adequate health equipment and facilities whereby their employees are screened and treated for sicknesses detected during health check ups. This happens when workers are found positive for the COVID-19.
“As the mines closed during the early months of the pandemic and most workers went back to their homes, it became a problem as we have workers from the most targeted provinces where the virus is very high and since they have been summoned to come back to work, many workers are coming back with the virus” said Njabulo Vundla* (not his real name).
“Those who are found positive or suspected to have the virus get sent to the main mine clinic in Atok mine where they are being kept under monitoring and treatment for 14 days or three weeks before they are released and only if they are healed they will return to work and be screened again before reporting on duty.” adds Vundla. The problem with the mine system is that they look after its employees and not the affected community members. They only locate the people you were in contact with and test them then subject them on self-isolation.
“In the first weeks of July more than 72 workers from other provinces tested positive. They were under treatment and monitoring” said another worker in the mine. This is really a serious issue as miners are concerned about their health and safety as the mines are only worried about production and making profits.
This article was submitted on 16 August 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.