SOUTH AFRICAN unions condemned the murder of a miners’ leader in Marikana yesterday a day after memorials for the 2012 massacre.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) official, who has not yet been publicly named, was reportedly shot dead on his way to meet a union comrade.
He had recently received death threats after returning to the NUM, with others, from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) splinter organisation whose violent unofficial walkout preceded the massacre.
North West provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said: “Police are investigating a case of murder.
“The victim was allegedly shot by a male whose identity is unknown. At this stage, noone has been arrested.”
The Cosatu union federation, to which the NUM is affiliated, said yesterday it “was angered but not shocked by these ongoing assassinations of workers, NUM members and leaders in particular.”
Commemorations were held on Wednesday for the 34 Amcu protesters shot dead by police on August 16 2012. Police reportedly opened fire after at least one protester fired a handgun at security forces, and other charged police lines with spears and other weapons.
In the run-up to the deadly shooting, eight NUM miners and security guards and two police officers — whose bodies were mutilated and weapons stolen — were murdered. Three more were killed in the weeks that followed.
Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said: “The Marikana tragedy has attracted political opportunists who have been selectively trying to rewrite the history of what happened.”
He said the August 16 deaths were just part of a year of violence on the Platinum Belt in North West province that saw 58 killed — 24 on the orders of Amcu’s “trade union warlords.”
The NUM, Cosatu and South African Communist Party blamed mining transnationals for encouraging Amcu to usurp the established union and provoking unofficial strikes as a pretext for mass sackings during a global slump in metal prices.
“No-one wants to talk about the role of Amcu in introducing the culture of violence in the mining sector,” Mr Pamla said.
“The mine bosses have to acknowledge and confront the fact that in their quest to dislodge the NUM and weaken the trade union movement they created this crisis of violence in the mining sector.”
The NUM has called for justice for all 44 Marikana victims.