NUM vs NUM: Union members clash in Stilfontein at election meeting

Intra-union violence broke out in the mining town of Stilfontein, near Klerksdorp, when National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members clashed over a leadership election on Sunday night, resulting in two people being injured and a union vehicle damaged.

The NUM’s Moab Khotsong branch had just elected new leaders, but the gathering was disrupted by a group of members who accused the regional Matlosana leadership of excluding their preferred nominations.

North West police spokesperson Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed that police were called in to defuse the situation. A case of malicious damage to property and public violence is being investigated.

“There were two groups of union members who fought. The police intervened and fired stun grenade. Three people who were hit by stones came forward after the incident and we will follow up with it,” he said on Tuesday.

The NUM Matlosana regional secretary, Khaya Ngeleka, said the meeting continued after the police dispersed the other union members. 

“These people are NUM members; some of them I know them very well. Some of them are recruiting for Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa). I don’t know their reasons for disrupting then,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

The NUM members who disrupted Sunday’s meeting had tried to attend the union’s national central committee meeting in May, but were prevented from doing so because the committee meeting was properly constituted.

Ngeleka said the branch leaders elected at Sunday’s meeting will be introduced to all members in Stilfontein on Wednesday, where he hopes they will be accepted.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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