Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

South African union condemns brutal murder of woman worker

20 January, 2022Nokufa Jessica Ndaba-Modise, an auxiliary occupational health nurse who worked at Highveld Hospital owned by coal mining company Thungela in Witbank was allegedly stabbed to death with a knife by her spouse on Christmas Eve, and her union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), is furious.

The NUM, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, condemns the brutal murder which it describes as femicide. According to the union, her car’s tyres were slashed with a knife by the spouse at a shopping mall slowing down her escape. As she sought help at a nearby garage, the spouse followed and killed her. The alleged killer is charged with murder and is out on bail following a court appearance.

“Her two young sons are traumatised and going through a difficult time after the tragic loss of their beloved mother. The NUM conveys its deepest condolences to the family of comrade Jessica, colleagues, and friends. We remember her as a bubbly, loving and caring person,”

says Kay Pholoba, NUM regional secretary for Highveld.

“This is a tremendous loss to the NUM. Painfully so as it happened in the hands of a person who claims to have loved and cared for her. We are inundated with stories of women and children falling victim to the high levels of femicide in the country. The NUM calls upon gender formations to unite and take action to end these gruesome and senseless killings,"

she adds.

Christine Olivier, IndustriALL assistant general secretary says:

“As an organization, we reiterate the message that we will never tolerate gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) and will continue to support campaigns that seeks to outroot GBVH. ”

Research by IndustriALL that included the mining and textile, garment, shoe, and leather sectors, concluded that domestic violence is a prevalent issue for women workers in these sectors. It has a negative impact on women’s participation at work, especially on safety issues.
IndustriALL, with support from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, organized a series of online workshops in 2021 to build union capacity on curbing GBHV in the world of work, using International Labour Organization Convention 190 as one of the tools. During the training, domestic violence was singled out as a daily threat to women workers’ lives and that unions must work with civil society organizations and other stakeholders to curb it.

IndustriALL has put together guidelines for trade unions on how to respond to domestic violence impacts in the world of work.
The training was attended by over 40 shop stewards in the mining and textile and garment sectors from South Africa and other Sub Saharan African countries and will be extended to other sectors this year. The shop stewards are also expected to carry out further training as “multipliers” of the skills and strategies to stop GBVH in their unions and countries.
South Africa ratified Convention 190 to end violence and harassment in the world of work in 2021. However, unions say the implementation of the convention and other national laws is urgently needed to eliminate the scourge of domestic violence and GBVH.