A woman miner was raped at an Anglo-American platinum mine in South Africa this week. This recalls the 2012 case of miner Pinky Mosiane, raped and murdered at work, and highlights the problem of violence against women mineworkers.

Miner Pinky Mosiane, raped and murdered underground in 2012

Miner Pinky Mosiane, raped and murdered underground in 2012

A women miner was raped at Thembelani mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Sunday the 8th March 2015.

It is alleged that the woman was raped in the changing rooms which the suspect entered holding a screwdriver, and forcefully ordered the woman to undress. He threatened to kill her if she resisted.

Like the Khomanani Mine where Pinky Mosiane was raped and murdered in 2012, Thembelani is a platinum mine owned and operated by Anglo-American platinum. This horrific incident comes only a few months after the passing of the verdict and sentencing of Mosiane’s rapist and murderer, who was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment.

At the time Mosiane was found in a pool of blood and there was no proper investigation into her case.

The verdict was passed in December 2014 during the international 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

South African actress Andrea Dondolo on Table Mountain in Cape Town, as part of One Billion rising, to call for an end to violence against women and girls. Photo by Lindsay Mgbor

There is a huge similarity in both these incidents. It directly raises the important issue of the safety of women workers in the mines, particularly relating to sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

There is also a troubling lack of involvement of women workers representing their interests in collective bargaining. This crisis of the lack of women mineworkers’ safety is largely due to the failure of the major mining companies and the South African government, who have stipulated quotas for women’s employment in the mining industry without investing in adequate measures to protect women at the workplace. Submissions have been made to companies and the government to do more but until now very little has been done.

Cape Town-based labour service organisation Workers’ World Media Productions lead the campaign to bring Mosiane’s attacker to justice, and to highlight the crisis of women’s safety in South African workplaces.

Workers’ World, together with several NGOs, intends to launch a class action suit against the mining companies, similar to the case in Hollywood film starring Charlize Theron, North Country. The aim is to ensure that women in mining and indeed at all workplaces are adequately protected from sexual harassment and abuse by their employers and co-workers, and that suitable legislation is in place to protect them.

A flyer produced by Workers World Media Productions calling for justice for Pinky.

A flyer produced by Workers World Media Productions calling for justice for Pinky.

Workers’ World called on trade unions to take up the issue seriously in their collective bargaining arrangements and processes, to include a strong education and training component around safety for women at work, and improve the inclusion of women in their leadership.

Full details of this latest attack are not know, but investigations are underway.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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