Implats charged with culpable homicide over miner’s death

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South Africa’s Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal, confirmed that it had been charged with culpable homicide following a fatality at one of its mines five years ago.
“The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) has charged Impala with culpable homicide. Impala asked for particulars relating to the charge in September last year and is still awaiting the information,” the company said in response to e-mailed questions from Reuters.
“Impala denies any liability in the death of Mr Phetoka,” the company said, referring to Lesotho national Paulus Mosala Phetoka, the worker who died in the incident, Reuters reports.

Implats said it was charged by the NPA in July last year but felt it was not necessary to tell shareholders, because it had not received any details of the charge, nor had it been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Andrew Mitchell, a lawyer at Bell Dewar in Johannesburg, said that it was not unusual for the NPA to charge a corporation with culpable homicide but that it was unusual for the charge to be laid in relation to a mine fatality.

He said the NPA could charge a chief executive with vicarious liability but that it was more likely the company would end up paying a fine.

Implats has already had a rough year with a six-week strike at its Rustenburg operations costing it 2.4 billion rand and a public spat with Zimbabwe over the handing over of a 51 percent stake in its local unit Zimplats to the government.

Shares of Implats were unchanged at around 150 rand by late afternoon on Wednesday. The JSE’s bluechip Top 40 Index was 0.09 percent up at the time.