The Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court in the North West has ordered that the R60 000 bail paid by Impala Platinum Mine Chief Executive Officer, Mark Munroe, be returned to him.
Munroe was arrested for allegedly contravening the Disaster Management Act during the National COVID-19 lockdown three months ago. The court order comes after his defence team argued that Munroe was not charged in his personal capacity, but that he was representing his company.
This comes after the company allegedly issued SMS notices to more than 60 000 Impala employees, including those who were not part of essential services, to report for duty during the lockdown in April.
Munroe made a brief appearance in the Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court, accompanied by his legal representatives. Before the matter could be postponed, the court ordered that Munroe be reimbursed for his R60 000.
He is now out on a warning.
“We are disappointed. We had thought that according to our layman’s understanding, the law could have taken its course and so that those who are implicated in putting lives of workers in danger are brought to book,” says National Union of Mineworkers representative Geoffrey Moatshe.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the province has also expressed disappointment at the court’s decision.
“This is an indication that the court doesn’t have any intention to enforce the laws that are put in place by the government. We call on the courts, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the judiciary to enforce all the laws that are being put in place by the government of the republic and to make sure that everybody respects the laws and nobody is above the law,” says Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Kopano Konopi.
Although Impala Platinum did not want to comment regarding the merits of the case, it has welcomed the court’s decision.
“As far as the state has a duty to uphold these regulations, we fully accept that and we will continue to provide our full assistance to the state in investigating, whatever case they believe they have against the company,” says Impala Platinum Mine Spokesperson, Johan Theron.
The case has now been postponed to 8 September.
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