Mine workers from several Optimum-owned mines have been identified by eyewitnesses as the ones responsible for torching five coal trucks and another pick-up truck, all belonging to Eskom, in retaliation for allegedly not receiving their salaries.
As reported by the Citizen, the Arnot and Carolina roads, coming in and out of Hendrina, a small settlement in the Nkangala district of Mpumalanga, have been blockaded by the scene of the burning trucks.
Why were Eskom’s coal trucks burned in Hendrina?
This is a key route for the transportation of coal and at the moment, it is not clear whether those trucks had a load of coal on them or not.
It has been alleged that the workers have yet to be paid by their employers. According to Hendrina police spokesperson, David Mbenekazi, the planned attack on the coal trucks was a message to Optimum coal mine from its employees.
What happened to the R1-billion Optimum secured?
According to an IOL News report, the coal mine had received an estimated R1-billion in funding to resume coal supply operations for Eskom.
The coal mine company that has been linked with the Gupta family, managed to regurgitate the coal supply deal it had with the power utility.
According to Kurt Knoop and Johann Louis Klopper, the two business rescue practitioners that were tasked with reviving the company, an investor had pledged these funds in March, revealing that operations between the two entities would most certainly resume.
Is NUM behind this attack?
Moreover, Nelson Ratshoshi, the regional chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) Highveld branch, had revealed, at the time, that the business rescue of Optimum had affected as many as 2 000 workers.
“Our position is clear: We have been saying anyone who has money must come and rescue that business, This thing has affected township businesses as well because mineworkers account for huge buying power around the communities they work in,” he said.
It is not clear, at this time, if the trade union is behind these attacks. No comment has been received from Optimum either. This is a developing story.