NEWS
30/06/2018 07:54 SAST | Updated 30/06/2018 07:54 SAST

Sibanye-Stillwater Faces Class Action Suit Over Safety Concerns

Shareholders want to sue the gold-mining company for allegedly putting profits over safety.

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA via Getty Images

Following the death of yet another miner on the job this week, gold-mining company Sibanye-Stillwater faces a potential lawsuit by shareholders who have accused it of putting short-term profits above safety.

According to Business Day, a number of U.S. law firms are behind the suit, although it has not been certified by a US. court yet. Until it is certified, it is not legal.

On Tuesday, another miner died at Sibanye-Stillwater's Driefontein operations near Carletonville, News24 reported.

Mine spokesperson James Wellsted said a 35-year-old winch operator had entered a gully while busy cleaning during the night shift, when he was hit by a scraper. "He was fatally injured."

Amcu on Tuesday called for the spate of deaths at Sibanye –Stillwater to be labelled a crime against humanity.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called for laws to be changed so that mine bosses can be prosecuted.

According to Business Day, U.S. law firm Bernstein Liebhard said on Thursday that it had filed a securities class action on suit on behalf of shareholders who bought Sibanye Gold Limited shares between April 2017 and Tuesday this week.

The law firm reportedly alleges that hroughout the period in question, Sibanye-Stillwater had made false "and/or" misleading statements "and/or" failed to disclose that "its company culture places short-term profits over safety".

In May, 13 miners were trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater's Masakhane mine at its Driefontein operations. Seven of the miners died, while the other six were admitted to hospital.

Rescue operations went on for two-and-a-half days before the last three miners trapped underground were rescued. At the time, Wellsted said a "thorough" investigation by the mine's management and the department of mineral resources was underway.

In February, 955 miners were trapped underground when there was a power outage due to a storm. There were no serious injuries, but the incident sparked outrage from Parliament's mineral resources committee, which said management should have had a backup plan in place in case of emergencies like this.

A few days later, two miners died underground at the Kloof Ikamva shaft — the same one in which the latest death occurred. Wellsted said a seismic event was behind those deaths.