The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) strongly condemns the stripping, and searching of female workers by male security officers while naked. 51 workers were suspended for refusing to be stripped naked and searched at the Sibanye Gold Cooke operations in Westonaria.
The National Union of Mine Workers became aware of the incident after the Gauteng commercial radio station KayaFM 95.9 exposure on the issue, highlighting the abuse of women at the Sibanye Gold’s Cooke 3 Shaft.
This conduct is sexual assualt. It is the worst violation of their fundamental human rights and is degrading of their dignity. The NUM is the only union which fought for women to work in the mining industry, and it did not fight for them to be abused, harassed, assaulted and violated, by anyone.
The reported conduct of male security officers at Sibanye Gold Cooke Operations is deplorable and absolutely unacceptable.
The NUM members who refuse to be searched were assaulted and handcuffed using cable ties, as if they are criminals. To make matters worse, such an incident has occurred days before the month that is dedicated to women. During the upcoming month of August we pay homage to the role of women in our society and also highlight the struggles they still face in their battle for total emancipation.
The NUM recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with management for the food ban underground in order to help fight illegal mining. The union is currently honouring such an MOU. However, the union has observed the abuse of our agreement by management with regard to security. The Sibanye Gold Management at Cooke operations is refusing to meet with the leadership of the NUM branch. This shows how arrogant Sibanye Gold is towards the NUM.
The NUM leadership had asked the Management for the meeting to take place on numerous occasions, but the Management has not even cared to respond.
Wilson Metsing, the Branch Secretary for the NUM at Cooke Operations