Numsa strike is illegal, court rules

Numsa strike.

Numsa strike.

Published May 25, 2024


Zanele Ntsibande, the woman who was allegedly the victim of a violent and sexualised attack by Numsa’s striking workers and regional leadership, has opened another case.

This time she has pointed out the Numsa regional secretary, Kabelo Ramokhathali, as one of her attackers.

Ntsibande said she was pulled out of a minibus taxi, pushed to the floor and kicked by Numsa members because she was going to work during an unprotected illegal strike at South Africa Steel Mills (SASM) in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg.

Ntsibande told The Star that she was pulled by the breasts and beaten up. “I didn’t know we were on strike. The other workers said a strike would be unprotected and I was on my way to work.

“The next thing I heard loud bangs and men pulled us out of the car. One male person pulled me by the breasts, threw me on the floor and started kicking me. The other men just watched. One screamed in a loud voice ‘mbethe’ (meaning, “beat her”). One of them was reaching for my private parts,” a distraught Ntsibande said on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Honourable Ntsoane AJ declared that the strike in which Numsa’s members are participating was not in compliance with Chapter IV of the Labour Relations Act – a rule nisi.

A rule nisi is an interim order granted by a court when the person against whom the order is made must, on a return court date, come to court to give evidence as to why a final order in that specific matter should not be made.

The effect of the order is that the Labour Court has declared that the strike and picket outside SASM’s premises under Numsa’s banner is unlawful and that Numsa’s members must stop such strike action, picketing and other unlawful acts.

The court also ruled that gathering at any of SASM’s entrances or blocking any entrances was illegal.

The court also declared that Numsa should not encourage or incite any of SASM’s employees to participate in the strike. The court cautioned against members intimidating or inducing any of SASM’s employees to not attend work, or conveying threats and committing acts of violence against SASM’s non-striking employees, and damaging any property.

Despite Numsa’s attorneys having acknowledged that Numsa and its members are aware of the court order and its contents, they have simply ignored it. SASM has urgently requested that Numsa urge its members to comply with the court order and desist from unlawful conduct.

That is particularly so where SASM fears that the actions of Numsa members will lead to further harm to innocent employees and bystanders, such as was the case with Ntsibande.

Kabelo Ramokhathali is now a person of interest in a criminal matter. Ramokhathali has not been available to talk to The Star.

Meanwhile, Numsa has condemned Alfeco Holdings after Numsa members who were picketing outside the company offices were allegedly shot with rubber bullets by security guards..

“Alfeco Holdings bought SA Steel Mills and the new management has been attacking workers’ constitutional right to strike. Our members picketed outside company offices and they were shot at with rubber bullets by private security. Four workers have been hospitalised for injuries,” union spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said.

Labour specialist Dr Barney Shabangu told The Star that the strike would have long ended had it not been election season.

“I'm convinced that Numsa is prepared to drag out the strike until the election of a new government next week. The employer is not adverse to engagement, but it is worth remembering that the strike was unprotected, thus the court granted the interdict. Numsa may be using Stalingrad tactics against Alfeco Holdings.

“This is confirmed by Numsa’s statement about which political parties are good or bad for voters. It seems the union may be awaiting a particular outcome concerning the election, and for that they may have to be seen to be sustaining the protest,” Shabangu said.

Women’s rights organisations have lambasted Numsa for the incident involving Ntsibande. This is a developing story.

Saturday Star