Union leader shot dead in S. Africa platinum belt

Union leader shot dead in S. Africa platinum belt
A miner leads his fellow workers as they chant slogans during the one-year anniversary commemorations to mark the killings of 34 striking platinum miners shot dead by police outside the Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km northwest of Johannesburg, August 16, 2013.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday one of its shaft chairpersons at platinum producer Lonmin was shot dead in the restive platinum belt town of Marikana, an incident sure to stoke labour tensions.

"He was killed last night. We don't know why at this stage, but there appears to be a resurgence of violence in the area," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters.

NUM has had tens of thousands of members in the platinum shafts poached by a rival group, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), in a turf war that killed dozens of people in 2012. Sporadic killings have occurred this year.

Police spokesman Thulani Ngubane confirmed a man was gunned down on Thursday night but did not release his name and said the reason for the shooting was unknown.

"He was on his way to the informal settlement that is next to Lonmin. As he was about to pick up his girlfriend, four men opened fire at his vehicle. He got out of the car and he got hit by seven bullets and then died on the scene," he said.

Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said the victim was the NUM chairperson at the Roland shaft at the company's Western Platinum mine.

"We cannot say if this is linked to the union rivalry or not," she said.

Lonmin's Marikana operations were at the epicentre of the union conflict last year. Police shot dead 34 striking miners there in August 2012 in the bloodiest security incident in the country since the demise of apartheid.

Lonmin earlier this year recognised AMCU, known for its militancy, as the majority union at its operations and stripped bargaining rights and even office space from other unions including NUM, a key labour ally of the ruling ANC.

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