Cosatu (and Police) serious about women abuse?

At 16:05 on 29 May I received a message on my phone (thanks to these sophisticated phones nowadays) that an email sent to one of Cosatu’s officials had been deleted without being read. This was one of the many follow up emails sent to the labour federation in three months. Reading this message on my phone, I was deeply disappointed.

Here’s a little background….

On 24 January I wrote a blog post about one of Anglo Platinum’s underground female workers, Pinky Mosiane, who was found apparently raped and dead underground in early February last year. This is because as far as I could establish nothing had been done on the case nor had there been any convictions, let alone arrests. North West provincial police communications head, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane told SAPA at the time that a stone with blood stains on it and a lunch box were found next to Mosiane’s body. There were also reports at the time that these had been sent to the laboratory for DNA analysis.

Mosiane’s mother, Mary, told the Times that her daughter’s was an attempted rape. She believed someone was trying to rape her because her colleagues found her with her trousers pulled down to her knees. “I’m sure they were trying to rape her. They probably hit her with a blunt object on the back of her head. I’m told that she was bleeding through her nose and ears. When they found her, she was still alive. They alerted the mine’s safety officials but when they got there she had already died,” said Mary.

The grieving mother further told the newspaper that it probably would have been better for the family to accept Mosiane’s death if she had died in the street because “to die at work is something else; it’s difficult to accept.” It is therefore this difficult part – Mosiane’s death herself – that I still cannot come to terms with until someone gives me the answers. In the week before I wrote a blog post, I tweeted this message and copied a few people, and from whom, to date, I have not received a response:

@Zwelinzima1 & @_cosatu Why is it that ya’ll have now forgotten that @AngloAmerican owes us an explanation of what led to a woman raped & died at one of its Rustenburg shafts? This incident happened early last year around Easter & to date no outcome of that investigation has been made public as far as I know & no-one’s been held accountable for her murder? And what of the @SAPoliceService investigation? Worse, I don’t remember political parties demanding answers on this. Why? I demands answers. It is NOT the first time I asked this issue be looked into. At the time, I also asked feedback or follow up on a case of a woman whose tarven was trashed and destroyed by community members and whose apparent partner who killed the following day after she refused to sell alcohol to either an under age teen or a group of underage teenages (sic) cc @jenniferthorpe @RapeCrisis @Anatinus @ancylhq @MyANC_ @sikimgabadeli.

Following this tragic death, Cosatu national gender coordinator, Gertrude Mtsweni, released a statement “unreservedly” condemning what she called the inhumane act, that the federation union was “revolted and outraged” at Mosiane’s death. She called this an “atrocity” that is primitive and which was only taking us back to the stone age.

Mtsweni said Cosatu and its affiliates had fought long and hard for men and women to be treated equally in the workplace not only by their bosses but by every fellow worker as well. “This heinous act needs an urgent response from our law enforcement agencies to apprehend the perpetrator(s) and from the employers to prevent similar events ever happening in the future,” she said.  She said Cosatu and NUM believed women in the mining industry or any other industry (emphasis) were subjected to “evils of capitalism” and faced “[their privacy] being invaded and killed by co-workers who are supposed to be their protectors and comrades in arms.”

Even Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on 17 February last year promised to visit Mosiane’s family, and called on mining companies to institute stringent measures to ensure the safety of women in mining and the wilful implementation of gender equality principles.

As indicated earlier, on 16 March I sent an email to Mtsweni requesting the federation’s comment on this because there has not been any progress on this case as far as I could establish. On 15 April, I sent another email to Mtsweni and this time to her colleagues, George and Theo (as had been advised to send an email to the latter by the federation on Twitter) requesting Cosatu’s response to the following questions:

  1. Anglo Platinum said at the time that it would launch an internal investigation into the cause of the Mosiane’s death. Has that investigation been done?
  2. Have you received a copy of the report?
  3. Have you made any effort, if any, to receive a copy of the report?
  4. Is the report publicly accessible?
  5. What recommendations, if any, have been implemented?
  6. At the time the provincial police indicated that blood samples had been sent to the laboratory for analysis. Are you aware of any progress report on the police investigation into the case and whether any suspects have been arrested or not?
  7. If no action has been taken against any suspects to date, what is Cosatu going to do about that lack of progress and in seeing that those responsible for Mosiane’s death receive the might of the law?

A few minutes later, I also forwarded the same questions to Cosatu spokesperson, Patrick Craven.

On 3 May, I again sent Mtsweni and Theo a follow up email to no avail.

Again, on 6 May, I made another follow up email to Mtsweni, Theo and George, reminding them of the May 3 follow up email to no avail. On the very say same day, I also made another follow up with Craven, reminding him of the 16 March email to Mtsweni and its follow up on 3 May to no avail.

I also sent Brigadier Ngubane an email on 6 May, and reminding him of my 21 April tweet to which he never responded (or whoever’s in charge of that social network account). In the email I sought clarity on the following questions:

  1. Have there been any arrests to date? If so, how many suspects have been arrested and have they appeared before any court of law, where and when?
  2. If not, why haven’t there been any arrests to date?
  3. If the suspects have appeared before court, what was the outcome of the court?
  4. If so, why not?
  5. What was the outcome of the DNA sample from the laboratory?
  6. Has Anglo Platinum been assisting in your investigation? If so, how? And if not, why hasn’t it been assisting with your investigation?
  7. If the investigation is still underway, what are or have been some of the challenges the police encountered?

On or around May 14, the Times quoted Brigadier Ngubane saying no arrests had been made at the time to date on Mosiane’s case.

Granted. But why has Cosatu spokesperson and its national coordinator – and of course their colleagues – been ducking and diving my questions on this issue?

Why haven’t they made any follow up with the police? If they have, why haven’t they kept the public updated on this development, if any?

One of the reasons I approached Cosatu is because of what Mtsweni said was needed at the time: an urgent response from our law enforcement agencies to apprehend the perpetrator(s) and from the employers to prevent similar events ever happening in the future.

Further, my questions are based on the federation’s National Gender Policy Conference resolutions in July, 2003 on Health and Safety which noted that: “There is a need to address reproductive health demands of women in the workplace. For example, access to pap smears, providing safe working conditions that do not affect the reproductive health of women, and conducive working conditions for women that are pregnant and breastfeeding.  In order for these issues to be addressed, women should be part of health and safety committees at the workplace.”

The establishment of COSATU National Gender Committee (NGC) at the time also informed my questions to the federation’s national gender coordinator.

Given the labour federation officials deleting and ignoring questions that sought clarity on Mosiane’s case and the police ignorance thereof – how will we get the “urgent response from our law enforcement agencies to apprehend the perpetrator(s) and from the employers to prevent similar events ever happening in the future” – a year later, nogal? Put differently, are we then to believe that Cosatu and the Police are serious about women abuse?

Now let’s see if Cosatu and the Police will respond to this question, SPECIFICALLY on the Mosiane’s case…

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