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Assmang poisoning probe: Employer rejects presiding panel

by lloyd last modified 2008-09-30 13:25

The on-going inquiry into the deadly manganese poisoning case of Assmang employees took a new twist today (Tue) when the company demanded that Labour department presiding officer Vuli Sibisi and his panel recuse themselves.

Released by Department of Labour on 26 February 2008

The on-going inquiry into the deadly manganese poisoning case of Assmang employees took a new twist today (Tue) when the company demanded that Labour department presiding officer Vuli Sibisi and his panel recuse themselves.

 

Assmang’s legal representatives were claiming to have “reasonable suspicions of biasness, lack of open-mindedness, impartiality and unfairness” on the part of the officers.

 

Richard Spoor, who represents the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa as well as other individual employees, slammed the motion for recusal as a “delaying tactic”.

 

Sibisi turned down the request, pointing out that the hearing was not a trial to decide whether anyone was guilty, but aimed at identifying causes of manganism in the plant, as well as remedial actions to be taken to address the problem.

 

He also pointed out that the role of the officials was therefore to collect evidence, after which a written report would be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide whether to prosecute or not.

 

Meanwhile all six furnaces of Assmang Plant remained closed on the orders of Labour inspectors in the wake of Sunday’s massive blast that killed five workers and critically injured several others.

 

The company and workers’ unions have been requested to appoint independent experts who will conduct risk assessment and give clearance for the furnaces to be operational again.  





 

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