‘Mine murders aren’t all union-related’

Riah Phiyega says many murders happen in ‘broad daylight’, yet no one speaks up.

FILE: Police Minister Nathi Mtethwa (L) and National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

RUSTENBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says South Africans shouldn't assume that every mine related crime is linked to union rivalry.

On Wednesday, Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched the new Mine Crime Combatting Forum in Rustenburg

The forum is aimed at dealing with the on-going violence and sporadic murders, specifically in Marikana, where there have been tensions since the shootings last August when 34 miners were killed during an unprotected strike.

Most of the tensions have been attributed to rival unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), but Phiyega says their differences cannot be blamed for every crime there since last year.

"There will be murders, there will be clashes in the area. What I'm appealing is let us not rush to linking and attributing everything to differences between unions.

Meanwhile, as police have faced continued criticism for failing to deal with the violence in the area, Phiyega has argued that witnesses have refused to come forward, hindering investigations.

Unions and miners say they're disappointed that no arrests have been made, but the commissioner says communities need to play a greater role.

"Most of the killings have been happening in broad daylight and yet there has been a concerning, deafening silence from witnesses."

Phiyega says the nation can help normalise the situation in Marikana if communities work with the police and the new forum.

The latest murder occurred on Monday when a female shop steward affiliated to the NUM was shot dead outside Lonmin's Rowland shaft.

There have been no arrests in the case.

The murder marked a dark beginning to the week which will end with the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Marikana tragedy on Friday.


Meanwhile, Amcu and Lonmin have signed a controversial recognition agreement just two days before the country commemorates last year's Marikana tragedy.

The company and union bosses have agreed on the framework for this year's wage talks and the role Amcu will play from now onwards.

Lonmin has confirmed Amcu now represents 60 percent of its employees.

Lonmin's new CEO Ben Magara says the agreement has been signed at a historic time in South Africa's history and follows robust engagement with Amcu.

"I'm delighted today that we are here to announce this agreement. We are also commemorating the week which changed our lives."

The agreement outlines the thresholds required for basic rights for unions.

Lonmin says Amcu currently represents just over 60 percent of its employees but has agreed to allow other minority unions to participate in this year's wage talks.

Lonmin have agreed to give workers the day off on Friday to mark the anniversary, so long as they forfeit a day's pay.