/ 27 November 2013

Jim lays case against Popcru’s Matsemela after death threat

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim on Wednesday laid a criminal case against Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Gauteng secretary Steve Phiri Matsemela after he publicly threatened to kill him.

Jim opened the case against Matsemela, who is also a provincial executive committee member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), at the Sandton police station on Wednesday afternoon. 

"This matter is no longer in the hands of either our general secretary Jim or Numsa, but it is now in the hands of the police," said Numsa in a statement.

"We hope that the investigation by the South African Police Service will unearth the underlying reasons or circumstances that led Matsemela to call for the killing of our general secretary.

"We trust that the police will act on this matter speedily, even though we have reported a number of cases without any action from the police." 

"This call or threat for the killing of our general secretary is a very serious and sensitive matter, and as a union we have applied extra-cautionary measures around the safety of our general secretary." 

"Our country has a painful history of assassinations or killings of committed working class leaders, such as the late general secretary of the SACP comrade Chris Hani." 

"We can’t afford a situation in a democratic dispensation for working class leaders to be threatened with death, purely for standing firm in advancing a working class agenda and interest," said Numsa.

History of threats
Jim, who has been a thorn on the side of the ANC and the government, has received death threats before. During the SACP conference in Richard's Bay last year, Jim claimed he was followed by a car with false number plates. When confronted, the occupants of the car produced a false photocopied police ID and claimed to have mistaken him for someone they were meant to be protecting.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the union had since beefed up security for Jim and it would continue to conduct risk and security assessments, with the aim of adjusting them whenever the need arose.

Numsa and Popcru have been at the centre of the faction battles in Cosatu over the past months. Popcru is aligned to Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and is the main complainant of financial impropriety against suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Numsa is a staunch supporter of Vavi and the union has taken Cosatu to court to overturn the federation's decision to suspend Vavi after he admitted to having sex with a junior staff member at Cosatu offices.

Meanwhile, Numsa national office bearers said nothing would stop the union from convening its special congress in two weeks to decide, among other things, whether or not to split from Cosatu.