A gyrocopter flying over the Tormin mineral sands mine near the West Coast town of Vredendal was shot at on the orders of the company’s general manager, a witness said.
The alleged incident took place last month and was reported to the local police.
The witness said Gary Thompson ordered his bodyguards to open fire on the aircraft.
Weeks of labour turmoil at the Vredendal mine on the arid coast 400km north of Cape Town started when workers launched a five-week strike on September 4.
Tormin hit back with a lock-out, coupled with its own conditions for a return to work.
Police allegedly fired teargas during a protest by strikers outside the mine and arrested 27.
After the return to work, 25 were suspended on charges including “participating in actions detrimental to the interests of the employer” and “bad-mouthing the company”.
Two shots were fired, but they missed and the helicopter flew off.
Then they went back to the plant and acted as if nothing had happened.” The witness said she reported the incident to the police on the same day, “but till today I have heard nothing”.
She said she had received a formal letter from the mine calling her to a disciplinary hearing, which she believes relates to an email she sent about the shooting incident.
“I did indeed send an email that day to my husband informing him of what happened,” she said.
Some workers then marched on Tormin to present a memorandum of demands, including Thompson’s “immediate dismissal”, but say no one emerged to accept it.
Four armed security guards stand at Tormin’s entrance.
During an unscheduled visit to the mine last week, an ama Bhungane reporter asked to speak to management, but they turned her away.