Too late for Mr Andries Ntombela! Not too late for SASOL! –

On Workers’ Day 2012, Khulumani joins the SASOL ex-workers in mourning the passing of their colleague, Mr Ntombela – and in calling on SASOL to make redress for the injustices faced by ex-workers who were illegally dismissed 25 years ago.

A former loyal employee of SASOL at its Sasolburg premises, Mr Andries Ntombela, passed away on Saturday April 28, 2012 after several weeks in hospital following a motor vehicle accident.

Mr Ntombela was 77 years old. He had given SASOL 30 years of dedicated service as a driver, safely transporting SASOL’s senior management between SASOL’s Sasolburg operations and its Rosebank, Johannesburg Head Office, before being dismissed in 1987.

Khulumani shares the sorrow of the SASOL Ex-Workers’ Committee at his passing and extends its condolences to his family – his wife and one surviving daughter.

2,400 SASOL workers including Mr Ntombela were dismissed because of their participation in the October 1987 strike, which was a legal strike. SASOL management made a decision to call the Internal Stability Unit, the so-called “riot” police. Some of the strikers lost their lives as a result.

SASOL’s hostile actions against its workers in 1987 has had terrible continuing consequences on their lives and the lives of their families. While SASOL has flourished and grown to become South Africa’s largest multinational corporation, the lives of these ex-workers and their families have been characterised by suffering and deprivation.

Mr Ntombela continued in the struggle of the Ex-Workers’ Committee to engage SASOL’s Board in working with it to create alternatives for the many ex-workers whose lives were set back so severely as a result of SASOL’s dismissals of its workers, up until the time of his recent accident. So while it is now too late for Mr Ntombela to receive redress from SASOL, it is not too late for SASOL to finally come to the table to find ways to redress the harm done to its ex-workers through its actions. SASOL has been sitting with the Ex-Workers’ proposals for a remedy for this situation for at least the past 5 years. The proposals argue for the construction of ‘climate jobs’ through biodiesel production from crop waste from surrounding maize producers among other possibilities.

In this 25th anniversary year of the SASOL 1987 strike, Khulumani joins SASOL ex-workers in demanding justice. The anger of the ex-workers is accompanied by a silent desperation on the part of the many widows of ex-workers who struggle to survive while SASOL prospers.

As a corporation that has benefited enormously from state assistance over many years as well as from the generally increased oil prices, Khulumani calls on SASOL to engage in implementing social justice for those who have contributed as workers, but whose lives have been devastated through the unfair dismissals of 1987.  On this Workers’ Day, we take up the call for SASOL to align their practices with their ethical commitments to conduct their business with due regard to the interests of its stakeholders, the environment and its social responsibilities and to achieve the triple bottom line of reasonable profits, social justice and sustainability.

For more comment, please contact Mr Lenning Makhiwane, Chairperson of the SASOL Ex-Workers’ Committee on 083 954 6417 or Dr Marjorie Jobson, National Director of Khulumani Support Group on 082 268 0223.

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