Miner killed in violence at South Africa's Lonmin

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2012 5:23 AM
Miner killed in violence at South Africa's Lonmin

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A worker was killed on Monday in renewed violence between rival unions at a South African mine operated by world number three platinum producer Lonmin, the head of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said.

"Early this morning one of our members was attempting to report to duty and he was killed. He was hacked to death," NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni told Reuters. "Our members are under attack."

The killing follows the murder of two security guards on Sunday by an enraged mob that attacked a facility at Lonmin's Western Platinum operation.

The violence is part of a turf war between the NUM, which has long been the labor giant in South African mining, and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

The latest flare-up began on Friday with an illegal strike by 3,000 rock drill operators at Lonmin's Western Platinum mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, mirroring previous incidents when AMCU has tried to recruit NUM members.

Baleni said bus drivers were being intimidated into not transporting workers to Western Platinum's operations. Allegations of intimidation have marked previous struggles between the unions.

Company officials said on Sunday the mine was operating at reduced capacity but were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

AMCU General Secretary Jeff Mphahlehle told Reuters he was en route to an emergency meeting with Lonmin management on Monday and said members of his union had also been attacked.

The NUM/AMCU rivalry shut the world's largest platinum mine, run by Impala Platinum, for 6 weeks earlier this year.

(Additional reporting by Sherilee Lakmidas; Editing by Ed Cropley)