Sixth death in Lonmin mine in three months

2017-10-19 12:23
 (File, Lucky Nxumalo, Beeld)

(File, Lucky Nxumalo, Beeld)

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Marikana - British platinum mine giant Lonmin has raised "deep concerns" following the death of employee Tholakele Dlunga this week, the sixth in the platinum belt in the North West in the past three months.

"Lonmin is deeply concerned by the recent fatal shootings across the platinum belt. The company is aware of at least six deaths and three injuries in various shootings across the region in the past three months, including three at Lonmin," company CEO Ben Magara said in a statement on Thursday.

In the latest incident, an unidentified assailant shot Dlunga, who later succumbed to his injuries, the company said.

READ: Lonmin said to breach social plan needed for mining license

One of Dlunga's relatives was injured during the shooting, Magara added.

"We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.  He is survived by his wife and three children."

Stakeholder engagement

The company has called for calm, peace and tolerance, adding that it was invested in the success, peace and stability of the company, its employees and its communities.

"This violence is deeply concerning. We have worked hard to establish a sound rapport with unions and employees. The recent violent attacks across the platinum belt only serve to undo these efforts," he said.

He also pointed out that an urgent multi-disciplinary stakeholder engagement process was necessary to help bring peace.

"The company has already commenced discussions with Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula as well as the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Joseph Mathunjwa," he added.

 "We also appeal for thorough investigations to bring the perpetrators to book," Magara said.

Dlunga, also known as "Bhele", was one of the rock drill operators who took part in an unprotected wage strike in Marikana in 2012 which resulted in more than 44 people being killed.

The rock drill operators were demanding a R12 500 monthly salary.

AMCU, which was a small union at the time, grew in its prominence and eventually replaced the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as the majority union.

Tribalism

Dlunga, who survived the Marikana shootings, became the union's Branch Chairperson for Health and Safety.

On Wednesday, Mathunjwa addressed a gathering at Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana in an effort to dispel reports that the killings could be a result of tribalism within the area.

Speaking in isiXhosa, Mathunjwa told the union members that he had always helped workers, regardless of their culture and background. He said workers needed to be unified.

"I just know a poor worker looking for a better life, not a tribe member. Capitalism delays the progress of workers by using tribalism and division. Media, as you have witnessed, there is no tribalism here," he said before a roar of applause erupted.

Mathunjwa discussed the union's history and said it had been under attack from those who wanted to see it fall.

He denied rumours that AMCU leaders and members were responsible for the death of miners, as well as some NUM leaders in the mining town.

Mathunjwa said he had gone so far as to hire private investigators to find the perpetrators because police were not doing their jobs, despite being given evidence.

He said that he would hire investigator Paul O'Sullivan if he needed to, adding that he had reached out to Mbalula for an urgent meeting to address the claimed lack of police action.

"The money of the workers must be used for the protection of the workers. We want to unite the working class."

He said miners were not living in the platinum mine belt by choice.

"If there was money or jobs back home, you wouldn't have travelled 1 000 or 2 000 kilometres to provide for your families only to be killed… You are not at these hostels to be killed."

He said the AMCU was the majority union at Lonmin and, if necessary: "We will bring Lonmin to a standstill until there is safety."

Mathunjwa is to hold a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday to shed more light on the killings, retrenchments and details of Dlunga's memorial service.

AMCU member at Lonmin Marikana mine, comrade Tholakele “Bhele” Dlunga was sadly shot last night. RIP Fighter. Salute! @_AMCU #AMCUKillings pic.twitter.com/7GFBqvWCxa

— Azania Afrika (@SAYoungLion) October 18, 2017

We are outraged by the killing of Tholakela (Bhele) Dlunga, an AMCU member at Marikana. 


Via @MinersShotDown

https://t.co/2E6f5cBPW3 pic.twitter.com/RY1Q5yXlPp

— Right2Know (@r2kcampaign) October 18, 2017

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