Union violence leads to more deaths at Lonmin

Two police officers, two security guards, three protesters and two other men had been killed by 8.30pm, said Captain Dennis Adriao.

Earlier, officials from the platinum mine announced that the body of a man was found on the premises. He had been shot dead.

Another man died in hospital on Sunday after being hacked with a panga as he left the mine after the evening shift.

On Saturday, two security guards were killed when the car they were travelling in was set alight. Scores of other people have been injured in the violent unrest in the last four days.

Police also reported that eight vehicles were torched on the mine property on Sunday. Violence at the Lonmin Marikana mine has been linked to clashes between members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which are reportedly fighting for control of local mines. Lonmin has called for an end to the violence.

"We are investigating a case of murder, arson, and malicious damage to property, but no arrests have been made," North West police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said. Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) were reportedly fighting for control of local mines.

"Whilst our first thoughts must be with the families of those killed and injured in these criminal clashes, our operational priority is to see the violence stop," said Lonmin CEO, Ian Farmer. 

NUM has condemned the violence and has called for immediate action from the police."[We are] alarmed at that the escalating violence has been allowed to continue unabated by the law enforcement agencies in that area in North West Province," said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.

"We call for the deployment of a special task force or the SANDF to deal decisively with the criminal elements in Rustenburg and its surrounding mine."

Baleni dismissed statements that was a rivalry attack and said the NUM was a victim of Amcu. 

Amcu secretary Jeff Mphahlele said his union did not encourage violence and was not responsible. "We have been recruiting across the country and have at times been met with resistance. Four of our members were shot at in Marikana, but they never retaliated," he said.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the police knew who the perpetrators were. "They are actually aware of who is responsible for this violence. The police are part of the problem." Seshoka said the union would ask Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to intervene. 

Cosatu's North West branch called on a rival labour union to put an end to the violence at the mine. Provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said Amcu should give miners freedom to choose a union.

"Cosatu wants to remind Amcu that the Constitution of our country allows workers a freedom of association," Phetoe said. "That right has been extended in the Labour Relations Act which give workers the rights and powers to form their unions, and not to be forced to join some fly-by night unions."

The province's Congress of South African Trade Unions urged the authorities to arrest the killers.

In February, the two unions clashed over membership at Impala Platinum's mines in Rustenburg. – Sapa

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