Judgment confirms community inclusion in mining regulations
- Lee-Anne Bruce
The Labour Court has ordered the state to adopt measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in mines and to engage meaningfully with affected communities
On Monday 4 May, the Labour Court handed down judgment in an urgent application seeking to ensure mine workers and affected communities are properly protected from the novel coronavirus. The Court has not only granted the relief sought, but has also ordered the state to engage meaningfully on future mining regulations with both trade unions and community networks like MACUA.
Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and their representatives at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies welcome yesterday’s judgment from the Labour Court. The ruling provides reasons for an earlier order directing the state to publish a notice requiring mines to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on employees and anyone else who may be affected by the disease at the mines – as well as to engage meaningfully on this with trade unions, the MACUA community network and other interested parties.
The judgment confirms that there is a fundamental overlap between occupational health and public health, and that both mine workers and communities are particularly vulnerable to a disease like Covid-19, saying at paragraph 35: “In the face of a global pandemic, the spread of the Covid-19 virus on South Africa’s mines has profound implications for the country, neighbouring countries and especially for mineworkers and mining-affected communities.”
We are very proud to have been involved in such an important case. We would like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to our dedicated legal team and in particular our counsel, Lunga Siyo and Lerato Phasha, for their work making this such a successful matter.
“This is a historic victory for mining affected communities,” says Akhona Mehlo, attorney at CALS. “The judgment recognises communities and their networks as key stakeholders in mining along with trade unions and employer organisations who must be meaningfully engaged on the laws and policies that impact them.”
“It is encouraging that no matter how excluded we have felt on issues like the Mining Charter and these lockdown regulations, the courts have always seen the value of including communities,” says Meshack Mbangula, National Co-ordinator of MACUA. “It was reassuring to hear Judge van Niekerk voice concern for the communities surrounding the mines and to make the connection between occupational health and safety and the issue of public health in our society.”
[UPDATE]: Representatives from CALS participated in a number of virtual consultations around the new regulations, which were gazetted on 18 May 2020. Unfortunately, there is not much community influence to be found in the final text.
For inquiries, please contact:
- Meshack Mbangula, National Co-ordinator, at email@example.com
- Christopher Rutledge, Executive Director MACUA / WAMUA Advice Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Akhona Mehlo at Akhona.Mehlo@wits.ac.za
- Busiswe Kamolane at Busisiwe.Kamolane@wits.ac.za
- Louis Snyman at Louis.Snyman@wits.ac.za
Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) is a national movement of mining affected communities advancing their rights and interests across eight provinces of South Africa. The network is made up over 25 Branches with thousands of members and works for communities to be granted the right to participate in issues and decisions that affect their human rights and which they believe is denied to them in current regulations governing the mining sector. Read more about the organsisation at http://www.macua.org.za.