Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the Mine, Health and Safety Inspectorate have been ordered to pay back over R500000 to mining giant Glencore for imposing an unlawful and invalid fine.
The Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, reviewed and set aside the fine and ruled that Zwane or the inspectorate return the money.
DMR’s unlawful action
According to the judgment delivered on Wednesday, Zwane or the inspectorate must pay Glencore because imposing the fine constituted unlawful action and is invalid.
The Labour Court found that the entire decision-making process was tainted with prejudice to the extent that Glencore was denied a fair hearing. “Justice was not seen to be done and was not done,” reads the judgment. The court described it as unfair for inspectorate officials to recommend to themselves the imposition of the fine and also ratify their own recommendation to impose it.
Accident at South Witbank Colliery in 2013
The company was fined R500000 in 2013 after an accident at its South Witbank Colliery in Mpumalanga which left one contractor dead.
The accident in October 2012 led to an inquiry by the inspectorate which found that there was a lack of proper supervision during underground cutting and welding operations leading to a contravention of various regulations and safety measures.
The inquiry also found that the safety measures for cutting and welding operations were violated. According to an official of the inspectorate, which reports to Zwane’s department, Glencore violated the Mine Health and Safety Act.
The inspectorate said the accident was very serious and could have had more catastrophic consequences.
Glencore must get its money back
On Friday, Glencore’s Gugulethu Maqetuka declined to comment on the matter. But in papers filed at the Labour Court, Glencore said the inspectorate’s decision violated the rule of law, the doctrine of legality and supremacy of the constitution.
It demanded that Zwane and the inspectorate return the R500000 with 15.5% interest, backdated to August 2013.
Source: Sowetan Live