- August 19, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
Criminal charges laid against Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg division for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations in April have been withdrawn, the company said yesterday.
The charges, that led to the arrest of the chief executive of the firm’s Rustenburg operations, Mark Munroe, resulted from the platinum miner’s decision to recall employees to work in the early stages of the nationwide lockdown after the company applied for permission from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to ramp up operations.
As workers attempted to return to work, Munroe was told to present himself at a police station. He was later charged. He appeared in court on April 17 and was granted R60 000 bail.
Implats said on Tuesday in a statement the withdrawn charges “related to alleged contraventions, by its Impala Rustenburg division, of certain regulations of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2020.”
“All criminal charges in the matter against Impala as represented by Mark Munroe have been withdrawn,” it said.
It added it is continuing to undertake operations in a “legally compliant and responsible way” and has taken several proactive steps to safeguard its business through the challenges and volatility associated with Covid-19, with a focus on saving lives. Munroe was the only top corporate executive to be arrested in connection with the flouting of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
In April, industries across the country ground to a halt as government implemented strict measures to curb the spread of the virus.
As of yesterday, the virus has resulted in the deaths of 11 982 South Africans.
Under the initial Level 5 hard lockdown regulations, mining companies were directed to put their operations under care and maintenance, with smelters operating at reduced capacity.
The current minimum standards for health and safety in mines were also not in place during that time. In May, Implats announced that temporary shutdown of its Marula mine in Limpopo after a discovery of a “cluster” of infection.
A total of 132 mineworkers have died from the virus of as of 17 August, according to information provided by the Minerals Council. The North West platinum belt has seen the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths among mineworkers.
According to the Minerals Council, which represents mining companies, there are currently 12 028 active cases of Covid-19 in the sector with 43 327 test conducted.
The sector has maintained that the high number of infections were due to its high testing rate. It says it has seen 11 256 recoveries.
The country yesterday moved to alert level 2 of the lockdown, which saw a further easing of restrictions. – news24.com