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MINE VIOLENCE
 
Lonmin death toll climbs as union clash intensifies
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13th August 2012
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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – London-listed platinum miner Lonmin on Monday said that another worker has been killed at its mine, bringing the number of deaths linked to interunion violence at the Western Platinum operations to four.

Following the deaths of two security guards on Sunday morning, one more employee was killed on Sunday evening in an ambush as he was going to report for duty. He had a deep laceration to the skull and a fractured jaw.

A fourth employee has been found fatally wounded with five gunshot wounds.

The killings followed as rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union intensified.

“It is still tense and still volatile, but the company is implementing all resources to bring the situation under control,” a spokesperson told Mining Weekly Online, adding that there was a heavy police presence at the site.

Senior police officials, led by provincial police commissioner lieutenant general Zukiswa Mbombo were tending to the issues and were following a number of leads.

Lonmin said in a statement on Monday afternoon that operations were running on a reduced basis as employee turnout had been low.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said many of the union’s members refused to go to work, as they believed it was unsafe. “We are meeting with management today to find a solution, as we cannot continue to have violence of this nature,” he added.

The illegal march of about 3 000 rock drill operators on Friday was accompanied by incidents of intimidation and violent action against employees reporting for duty. Four employees trying to report for work were injured on Friday, two of whom have been hospitalised after receiving gunshot wounds, allegedly by rival union supporters.

Trade union Solidarity reported that three of its members sustained serious injuries during the unrest at the Marikana mine. The union has called on the police and Lonmin to take serious action in order to put an end to the violence.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the members sustained injuries when they were assaulted outside the mine’s premises before they could report for work Monday morning.

“One of our members sustained stab wounds and another sustained burn wounds. The third member has a fractured jawbone,” Du Plessis said.

Solidarity has directed a letter to Lonmin, demanding that the employer ensure the safety of the union’s members when they report for duty. “If the employer fails to meet this demand, Solidarity will withdraw its members from the workplace for safety reasons,” he noted.

Lonmin human capital and external affairs executive VP Barnard Mokwena said over the weekend that the company condemned the attacks and associated intimidation.
 

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

 

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A file picture of union violence in the North West
 
Picture by: Reuters
A file picture of union violence in the North West