Mine denies NEFF access

November 13, 2014, 10:30am
Mine denies NEFF access
MEMBERS of the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters were denied permission to visit Purity Manganese Mine on Tuesday.
Eight NEFF leaders led by the party's president, Epafras Mukwiilongo, and the second in command, Kalimbo Iipumbu, drove to the mine outside Okahandja as part of their mission to nationalise mines as outlined in their manifesto. 
They requested to see the mine operations manager Assi Eretz, claiming that the mine was operating without a licence; abusing workers; and practising child labour. 
Mukwiilongo told The Namibian yesterday that they waited at the gate from 11h00 until 23h00 and did not speak to the managers or any of the workers. 
Yesterday, the mine's lawyer Izak Hohne of Hohne & Co confirmed over the phone that he had denied the NEFF access, saying they had no right to a visit of that nature because they are not a miners' union. 
Hohne also said he wrote to Iipumbu on Tuesday, explaining that any campaigning or meeting of political parties must be confined to outside working hours in a designated area away from the mine's premises. 
Iipumbu said the only reason they were refused entry was because the company was afraid they would unearth unreported illegal activities he claims are taking place at the mine. 
“Do you know that over the past few years there have been three unreported fatal accidents at the mine? Workers are not wearing protective clothing and they are subjected to poor working conditions?” he said. 
Hohne, however, said he would not respond to Iipumbu's claims without an official written letter on the allegations. 
Iipumbu said they would not rest until they get to the bottom of the matter, and that they were in the process of consulting human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe to look into the treatment of workers. 
This is the second time the party is denied access to a venue. Earlier last month, the group was denied entrance to the Heroes' Acre together with members of their South African sister party, the Economic Freedom Fighters. The group claimed they wanted to pay their respects to the fallen Namibian heroes.
Theresia Tjihenuna The Namibian