Police bosses have been ordered to take action against officers who refused to intervene in a protest by former employees of state-owned mining company, AEMFC.
Johannesburg – Police bosses have been ordered to take action against officers who refused to intervene in a protest by former employees of state-owned mining company, the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC).
The 46 employees have been protesting at AEFMC’s Vlakfontein mine in Ogies in Mpumalanga since their contracts were not renewed at the end of February this year.
A week ago, the employees arrived at the Vlakfontein mine and blocked the entrance to the mine preventing AEFMC employees responsible for working the day shift from leaving and those starting the night shift from entering.
The protest prompted AEMFC to report the matter to the police and opened a case and police were called to assist with the unlawful conduct by the protesters and arrived at the mine after the former employees returned to the mine on Saturday armed with sticks, rocks and brandishing firearms.
They also blocked all persons from going in or going out of the mine by damaging vehicles with sticks and throwing stones and rocks at the applicant’s employees, their vehicles and equipment.
Despite attempts by AEMFC asking for their intervention, police refused to stop the former employees from continuing with their unlawful protest action at the mine.
Instead, police advised AEFMC managers to obtain a court order before they would be able to act against the former employees as they could not act without an order of the court.
This prompted AEFMC to approach the Mpumalanga High Court for an interdict to prevent possible loss of life, injuries to employees, agents, and further damage to its equipment and mine.
AEFMC was granted interdictory relief and an order made directing the police and their public order policing unit to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the orders were complied with to prevent further harm.
In his written judgment delivered on Thursday, acting judge Henk Brauckmann ordered the court’s registrar to bring his ruling to Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole’s attention.
“The minister of police and the national commissioner of police must consider whether to institute an inquiry and to consult with the applicant’s (AEFMC’s) attorneys for the purpose of fully addressing the complaints raised herein and to take measures to avoid recurrence of similar complaints in the future, if necessary,” reads acting judge Brauckmann’s ruling.
He said the state of affairs of the Mpumalanga police was pressing and concerning and should be brought to Cele and Sitole’s attention.
“The applicant (AEFMC), and many other employers in this division, and more specifically in the local seat, should not have to spend thousands of rand on legal costs in order to obtain court orders to ’jump start’ the police,” the acting judge said.
According to his judgment, the high court must be wary not to tread on the sphere of the executive arm of the government, but cannot sit idle and see criminal activities during protest action being perpetrated in the presence of the police who insist on a “court order” to execute their constitutional duties.