Twickenham Platinum Mine lays off more than 50 workers

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More than 50 people have been laid off as Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham mine closes some operations at its Mopetsi camp, outside Burgersfort, in Limpopo. Several local businesses also had their contracts terminated.

The Twickenham Platinum Mine has been under care and maintenance since 2016. In 2017, another mine, jointly owned by Anglo-Platinum and Atlatsa Resources, was put under care and maintenance.

The camp had been turned into an isolation place for people affected by COVID-19, but was closed due to community unrest.

The mining communities in the platinum belt of Sekhukhune area in Limpopo continue to feel the strain of unemployment. Thousands of people have become jobless.

At Twickenham’s Mopetsi camp, the contracts of local businesses were terminated as the mine ceases some operations as it is under care and maintenance.

Leader of the small businesses, known as Sekhukhune G9 companies, Calvin Mashabela has expressed his disappointment on the closure of the Mopetsi camp.

“We feel very much disappointed. Twickenham doesn’t regard us as their partners. Our families are severely affected because now there’s no source of income. We’ve got accounts that we are supposed to pay every month. We can’t. We’ve got kids to look after. There’s this pandemic and your life just dramatically changed.”

Mashabela believes there is something untoward as he alleges that they have been working for two years without contracts.

“The very same developer failed to give us a contract, which is actually the basic. You can’t work for somebody without knowing because, in the contract, the job description is mentioned. Since 2016 until 2020, we’ve been looking for a contract, which does not come up. We got chased away just because now we need the contract.”

Workers, whose employment has been terminated, have expressed disappointment.

Keith Kgwete and Rebotile Malatji say they will now struggle to put food on the table for their families.

Anglo-Platinum Spokesperson Jana Marais says the facility, which had been converted into an isolation place for COVID-19 patients, had to be close as they feared the safety of their employees due to threats from the mining communities.

“Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Mopetsi camp was converted into an isolation facility with more than 600 beds. This required specialised services, which were not available in the Twickenham communities. An agreement was reached with a new service provider to employ people from the local communities and about 85% of those employees were locals. Unfortunately, following security threats to our employees as well as to the new service providers, the decision was made to cancel the contract and close the camp as an isolation facility and it will remain on care and maintenance.”

The future of the closed platinum mines, Bokoni and Twickenham, is not clear at this stage.