Workers at a South African mine, known as Gold One, have finally emerged after being trapped underground for three days in a situation that authorities are describing as a hostage crisis. According to police reports, individuals armed with clubs and mining tools held more than 500 miners captive. The incident began on Sunday and was rooted in a conflict between two labor unions.
One miner, who chose to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation, told the BBC that escaping was the only option to save his life. He mentioned that some of the captors had physically assaulted the trapped miners. “We eventually ran out of tea, sugar, and coffee and survived on water,” said the miner, who has been employed at Gold One for over a decade.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) claimed that its members were held against their will by “hooligans.” However, the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) refuted this, stating that the miners were participating in a “sit-in” protest willingly. Amcu has been fighting for legal recognition at the mine for approximately five months, while NUM currently has an exclusive agreement with Gold One.
Police Investigation Underway
All miners have now resurfaced, and police have initiated an investigation into potential kidnapping. Police spokesperson Brenda Mudiri stated that those interviewed confirmed they were held against their will. Management at the mine supported the police and NUM’s view that the miners were hostages. Amcu has accused Gold One’s management of collaborating with NUM, a claim that the mine denies.