Richards Bay Minerals GM killed in hail of bullets while on way to work

Nico Swart was shot and killed on his way to work on Monday morning, with more than 20 high-caliber bullets fired into his vehicle.

FILE: Picture: SAPS.

DURBAN - Police in KwaZulu-Natal have confirmed the killing of a general manager for operational services at Richards Bay Minerals, owned by mining giant Rio Tinto.

Nico Swart was shot and killed on his way to work on Monday morning, with more than 20 high-caliber bullets fired into his vehicle.

In a statement, Rio Tinto said that it was cooperating with the police in its investigation.

The police’s Thembeka Mbele said that they were still trying to find the motive behind the murder of Swart.

"We can confirm the shooting in Meerensee, Richards Bay. it is alleged that at about 6:45 this morning, the deceased was shot while driving in his car on his way to work at Corner of Dune and Kolstert
Road by three unknown men who were on foot. He was declared dead at the scene. The motive is unknown and the matter is still under investigation.

Swart’s murder was the latest of at least six assassinations linked to the mine 2016.

In 2019, the shooting of an employee-led to a temporary suspension of some mining activities.

In the same year, Meshack Mbuyazi – a local leader - was shot dead while getting into his car after attending a meeting called by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala to try and end an impasse in the
Kwambuyazi community at Richards Bay where the mine was located.

In April, the biggest company here, Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) - which employs thousands of locals - announced that its R6.7 billion mining expansion project would remain on hold until security issues threatening its operations were resolved. it cited attacks on some of its employees.

RBM is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer and beneficiation company. It is owned by Anglo-Australian multinational, Rio Tinto Group, which is the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation.

According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, there have been at least 38 murders and 14 attempted murders in mining localities in KwaZulu-Natal in the last five years.
Those murdered include activists who spoke out against questionable deals with local businesses. Fearing for their lives, others have gone into hiding.

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