The recently passed Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill (MHSB), provides that mining companies can incur criminal liability for breaches of health and safety regulations. The somewhat controversial Bill forces mine management and staff to be personally accountable for accidents and fatalities and provides for those found to be liable for fatalities and safety-related contraventions to be fined up to 3 million rand or serve up to five years in prison or both.
The MHSB criminalizes the Mine Health and Safety Act to a large extent. At present, most of the breaches of the Act by an employer may only lead to the imposition of an administrative fine. However, in terms of the Bill, breaches by the employer may lead to both administrative fines and criminal liability. Many have argued, including the South African Chamber of Mines, that simultaneously imposing administrative fines and punitive liability is unconstitutional and will result in a decrease in investment in the South African mining industry.
The MHSB also introduces corporate homicide on the part of a corporation in addition to culpable homicide. This additional liability is extended to the CEO, managers, employees and agents.