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newsSowetan reports that relatives of workers who perished in a Limpopo copper mine last week have accused the company of leaving them in debt, after it did not pay for funeral costs as it had apparently promised.  They said they had to foot the burial costs despite a promise by the company to do so.

Six miners died at Palabora Mining Company in Phalaborwa after an underground conveyor belt caught fire on July 15. Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire suppression system was not functional at the time of incident.

During the dead miners’ memorial service last week, trade union representatives called on the mine to pay 100% of the funeral costs.

Phillip Ntivane, branch secretary of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, confirmed yesterday that the company had agreed to carry the costs of the dead miners.

“But what we have learnt is that the company only contributed R30 000 to each of the families, the money of which was sourced from the funeral cover the employees had with the company,” he said.

Ntivane said they would still make an inquiry to uncover the truth into the matter.

“As of now we are still unsure about the details of the contribution the company had made to the families but we will conduct an investigation.”

Jerry Malatji, the brother of deceased miner Elliot Maake, said they had been left with a huge burden after incurring debts towards the funeral.

“We believed in the lies of the company and as families of the deceased we incurred huge debts hoping that we would be assisted with costs. And nothing has come forth,” Malatji said yesterday.

Another relative, Kedibone Mashigo, the mother of Shaun, 26, one of the deceased, said the company only sent officials to inform them that it was still conducting investigations.

“I expected the company to erect a tombstone for my son. I also wanted it to provide transport for the mourners. But they did nothing to assist,” said the 48-year-old woman.

A third relative, Tiyani Mayindi, whose father Eckson, 60, also died, said his family was also not happy with the company’s contribution towards the funeral.

Spokeswoman for Palabora Mining Lydia Radebe said it would be insensitive for the company to engage in such matters through the media.

“We are appealing to the families of our departed colleagues that if there is anything that they are of the view that we have not done properly, our doors are always open for engagement,” Radebe said.

“We therefore appeal to the families to engage with us in private spaces if there is anything that they might be feeling aggrieved about.”

The original of this report by Frank Maponya appeared on page 12 of IB of 26 July 2018

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