By Mbekezeli Ncube
ATLEAST 51 employees at the Anglo American Platinum owned Unki Mine in Shurugwi, Midlands Province have tested positive for Covid-19.
This was revealed by Anglo American Platinum Media Relations Officer Jana Marais.
“As of 11 August 2020, we had conducted 363 tests on our employees and contractors. Of these, 51 have tested positive (2.4 percent of total staff).
“We have done significant work to trace all contacts and offer affected staff with the required support,” Jana said.
The company’s risk based testing strategy includes pro-actively testing frontline employees who interact most with other staff especially clinic employees, security staff as well as canteen staff.
Added, Marais, “We are confident that we have the required systems in place to ensure we deal with suspected infections in a safe and timeous manner, that we can test our employees, trace possible contacts where needed and provide the necessary support where required.
“As part of our community initiatives, we have also conducted an additional 122 tests to date on members of the surrounding communities for free.
“We will be scaling up our testing in the coming days as part of our efforts to limit the spread of the virus.”
Unki Mine received regulatory approval for testing equipment on the 30th of July and has been conducting tests since then.
Marais also dismissed claims the mine was now a hotspot for Covid-19.
“We appeal to our employees and members of the public to desist from spreading unconfirmed reports during this time.
“Should cases of Covid-19 be detected and confirmed at our operations, we will report these transparently and in line with the requirements set by various government authorities and industry bodies,” she said.
When asked about the measures to be taken by government on the platinum reserve after the alarming cases, Mines Minister, Winston Chitando said he had not yet received news of the situation at the mine.
“I am not aware of the development you are referring to,” he said.
However, Unki Mine employees who spoke on condition of anonymity believe the numbers of their infected colleagues could be higher that the official 51.
They expressed displeasure with their employer’s alleged recklessness when dealing with Covid-19 cases.
“Saying that the company only has 51 cases of Covid-19 is a lie. Our bosses are saying this because they want us to keep on coming to work in order to keep their business up and running. Our lives are more important than this,” said one disgruntled employee.
“Despite this, we are still forced to go to work while cases of Covid-19 cases in the mine are increasing.
“They are arguing that the company must take serious precautions and adhere to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
“This is really stressing because if we keep on going to work, we are going to get infected and also transmit the virus to our children.”