A suspect has been arrested and appeared at a South African court this morning following the rape of a female worker at the Thembelani mine in Rustenburg on Sunday.
The man allegedly entered the female changing rooms at the mine holding a screwdriver, then forcefully ordered the woman to undress and threatened to kill her if she resisted.
The attacker, who is not thought to be an employee of the company, also threatened a second female worker.
IndustriALL Global Union’s South African affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), is demanding an explanation from the mine’s owners, Anglo-American Platinum, on how the suspect gained access to the mine’s premises.
The company has acknowledged that a ‘violent criminal act’ had taken place at the mine.
Frans Baleni, NUM general secretary and IndustriALL vice-president, said:
“As the NUM, we abhor violence and call on the law enforcement agencies to act without fear or favour. It is regrettable that the escalating violence against women, in particular, seeks to reverse the gains the country made in relation to the employment of women in the mines.”
In 2012, female mineworker, Pinky Mosiane, was brutally raped and murdered while working at Anglo-American’s Khomanani Mine, also in Rustenburg.
Most acts of sexual assault and violence against women in South African mines go unreported, as the women workers are afraid of losing their jobs.
The NUM is fighting hard for the women working in a male-dominated and sexist industry. The NUM reports that although large numbers of women are now working underground, nothing has been done to make mines a safer place for women. Sexual abuse and gender-based violence in mines are still pervasive, says the NUM.
“It is very disappointing that women workers while being subjected to the evils of capitalism, face yet another challenge, that of being invaded, raped, sexually abused and killed by co-workers who are supposed to be their protectors and comrades in arms,” said Baleni.