S.African mining executive faces charges for alleged lockdown breach
A South African platinum mining company executive was released on bail on Friday after a first court appearance for allegedly flouting coronavirus lockdown regulations, the police said.
Mark Munroe, chief executive of Impala Platinum (Implats) operations in Rustenberg, 160 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, was arrested on Tuesday for reportedly instructing miners to return to work despite a nation-wide ban on mining operations to fight coronavirus.
“Mark Munroe… has just appeared before the Tlhabane magistrate court following his arrest for contravening lockdown regulations on April 14,” police spokesperson Vish Naidoo told AFP.
He ws released on a 60,000 rand ($3,200) bail and has been ordered back to court August 4, 2020, Naidoo said.
“Implats and its subsidiaries fully support the measures put in place by the South African government…to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said the company in a statement after Munroe’s court appearance.
“Impala… continues to undertake its operations in a legally compliant and responsible manner (and) will fully cooperate with all the relevant authorities.”
South Africa is three weeks into a strict five-week nation-wide lockdown scheduled to last until the end of April.
Some restrictions were eased this week to help with the economic impact of the shutdown, including an authorisation to partially resume mining operations announced on Thursday.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said mines would be allowed to function at 50 percent capacity during the rest of the lockdown under strict conditions.
The criteria include stringent screening and testing of workers and quarantining of any detected cases.
South Africa is the world’s top platinum miner and the continent’s largest gold producer.
Mining accounted for eight percent of the country’s GDP in 2018 and acts as a major source of foreign exchange.
The industry is also a major employer, with more than 450,000 people on the payroll.
Africa’s most industrialised economy has the highest number of recorded coronavirus cases on the continent.
To date more than 2,600 people have tested positive for the disease and at least 48 have died.