Union blames mines for workers’ deaths

SAFETY FIRST … The Mineworkers Union of Namibia says mines are not doing enough to provide workers with safety gear. Photo for illustration purposes. Photo: Mineworkers Union of Namibia

… Xinfeng denies responsibility

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) is holding the Xinfeng and Rössing Uranium mines responsible for the deaths of two mineworkers who allegedly died on duty last month.

Speaking on behalf of the mineworkers, MUN secretary general George Ampweya says the incidents took place due to the mines neglecting to provide workers with adequate safety measures.

This comes after a man working on a solar plant construction project at Rössing Uranium near Arandis died at the construction site on 15 May.

Gerson Nauyoma, a Xinfeng employee, died on 28 May after coughing up black mucus.


Ampweya says the safety and well-being of workers remain the union’s priority.

“These incidents shine a harsh light on the deplorable safety standards workers are routinely subjected to, with minimal to non-existent oversight from labour inspectors.

“It is disheartening to witness the lax enforcement of safety regulations, leaving employees vulnerable to life-threatening risks. Workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for the sake of profit-driven negligence.

“It is apparent that certain high-ranking government officials have been complicit in colluding with investors to bypass essential procedures designed to guarantee the health and safety of workers in the mining industry,” he says.

Ampweya says the culture of ignorance and disregard for safety standards is unacceptable and must be addressed with urgency.

George Ampweya


He says the MUN urges the government to take immediate action to strengthen oversight mechanisms, increase the enforcement of safety regulations, and hold responsible those who prioritise profit over workers’ safety.


Labour expert Herbert Jauch says mines should take precautions to make sure no one dies at work.

“In terms of the Labour Act, there are very specific provisions for occupational health and safety. It states that there must be occupational health and safety at work, and companies should bring workers together through their unions.

“That committee must make sure all potential risks are minimised.

“The involvement of workers in the process through occupational health and safety is important, because they can also advise the company on what is a risk for them and what is not,” he says.

Jauch says some mining companies are refusing to take responsibility.

“Some mining is very dangerous, and that includes uranium mining. The dangers are not immediately visible . . . they accumulate over time in the body, and workers die of cancer.

“What we have known or seen in the past with uranium mining, particularly at Rössing, is that they have refused to take responsibility. They always say it’s lifestyle diseases that cause workers to get sick, not the work in the mine.

“In the uranium mining industry, we have had great problems with them admitting radiation is cumulative and can affect mineworkers very easily. Companies need to take this very seriously.

“It is not just a matter of compensation if someone is injured or dies. The Labour Act says companies should take precautions to make sure no one dies at work,” he says.

Hilda Basson Namundjebo


In a statement compiled by Oxygen Communications’ Hilda Basson Namundjebo, Xinfeng says the company bears no responsibility for Nauyoma’s death.

“The environment in which mining operates is inevitably a challenge, especially as it relates to dust. To this end, we have deployed the highest technology in dust suppression, a process vetted during our application for our environmental clearance certificate, which was successfully granted.

“It should be stated categorically that Xinfeng bears no responsibility for the death of Gerson Nauyoma. As is evident from our contribution, we are working closely with Nauyoma’s brother, Gebhardt Nauyoma,” the statement reads.

Rössing Uranium last month issued a statement confirming a mineworker’s death.

The company in a statement says operations at the solar plant construction site have been suspended until further notice.

The worker’s name cannot be disclosed as his next of kin have not been informed of the incident yet.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News