Johannesburg – Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa likened the killings at Marikana, in the North West, to the situation at the notorious Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal.
"What is taking place on the platinum belt is no different to the impunity enjoyed by assassins at Glebelands Hostel in Durban, the killers of ANC councillors and other activists in KwaZulu-Natal and in northern Pondoland," read a statement sent on Thursday.
Mathunjwa slammed media houses that have reported that AMCU was behind the killings, thus creating an environment for them to occur because of internal conflict within the union.
At this stage, at least six mineworkers have been killed by hitmen in the area in the past two months.
The union has appealed for peace and restraint since the 2012 Marikana massacre.
Mathunjwa condemned the recent spate of killings and said the union was not aware of who was responsible for them.
He said police had arrested three suspects on Wednesday believed to be linked to the killings, but that AMCU was not surprised by the delay in arrests.
"[This] acts as an encouragement for hitmen to undertake their immoral acts and for assassins to become a growing profession and an employment opportunity," he said in a statement.
R200 000 reward for information
At a mass meeting in Wonderkop, Marikana, on Wednesday, Mathunjwa went as far as saying he would increase the R100 000 reward to R200 000 for any information on the killings, adding that the protection of workers was important.
AMCU also slammed mines for their focus on profit over the safety of their workers, focusing specifically on the imminent retrenchments at Sibanye Stillwater, Impala Platinum and AngloGold Ashanti; as well as deaths on various mines due to seismic activity.
"Mines have quite literally become a death trap for workers who risk their lives on a daily basis for the profits of mining houses," the statement read.
AMCU has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the union and the department of mineral resources reach a deadlock on the issue of job losses.