22 August 2017

SUMMARY: The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is experiencing wide-range attacks on its leadership in the platinum belt, with several physical attacks taking place during the past weeks. AMCU also rejects the claims by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that AMCU was responsible for the killing of a member in Marikana last week. The Union cites various cases of violence against its members and corrects false claims made by rival unions. AMCU calls upon the South African Police Services (SAPS) to finalise its investigation with expedience. AMCU says that it is considering legal action for defamation and making of false statements.

 

In a media statement issued by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on Friday (18 August 2017), the federation claims that “an NUM leader” was “gunned down” in Marikana the previous day. The statement goes further to say that the person was a former member of AMCU, and accuses AMCU of “introducing the culture of violence in the mining sector”. It also refers to the AMCU leadership as having “vigilante tendencies”, and makes the false claim that AMCU “collapsed a congress … by assaulting other members”. This raises questions whether the insults and aspersions levelled against AMCU leaders by COSATU should be targeted to vigilantes within their ranks.

 

AMCU rejects the claims by the NUM and COSATU in the strongest of terms. COSATU and NUM have concocted this false statement as a ploy to defame AMCU and bring the Union into disrepute. It is riddled with inaccuracies and seeks to mislead the general public.

 

Over the years AMCU has lost many of its leaders to violence in the Platinum belt in assassination style executions. The most recent incident is the murder of our member, comrade and Branch Secretary at Lonmin, Cde Zingisa Mzendane who was killed a day after the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family, friends, colleagues and comrades. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

 

Cde Mzendane was not a member of the NUM at all. In fact, he was an AMCU member until he was no longer employed by Lonmin. The fact that COSATU and the NUM are claiming that he was a NUM member is therefore erroneous at the very best and could even be construed to be

 

deliberately misleading. The statement also makes a false reference to the Marikana Massacre Commemoration, making the point that the murder took place “after the Marikana Massacre” commemoration. This creates the impression that the murder is somehow related to the event. This is simply untrue. The murder was completely unrelated and happened on a different day than the commemoration event.

 

AMCU views it as highly irresponsible to make false claims about something as serious as murder. It seems as if COSATU and NUM are purposefully and deviously misleading the public by trying to sketch a situation which does not exit. The Marikana Massacre commemoration was a peaceful event, and everybody arrived, participated and departed without incident.

 

AMCU also rejects claims of it being responsible for violence in the mining sector. AMCU cites various examples of violence perpetrated by other trade unions, such as an attack on the Impala Branch Secretary, whereby he survived a failed assassination attempt. His niece was killed in cold blood with two (2) gunshots, as the secretary was not home at the time. In addition to this, our Deputy Chairperson in Rustenburg was hospitalised for two weeks after he survived a fifteen- bullet attack.

 

AMCU is not engaged in any turf war with rival unions, especially in the platinum belt where we are the majority union. The attacks took place a few days after Lonmin issued a notice of termination of recognition agreements of trade unions who failed to meet the membership threshold. Ironically, it was AMCU that lowered this threshold to 30%, from the earlier 50% plus one as set by NUM when they were the majority. There is therefore no motive for AMCU to be frustrated to the point of violence. Rather, the only plausible explanation is that the motive is with organisations seeking to weaken AMCU or exercise revenge for losing organisational rights.

 

In understanding murder, the legal test is the existence of three fundamentals, namely a body, a weapon and above everything else, motive. Consistent with our observation and the general attacks levelled against our members, these attacks are persistent, calculated, well-resourced and strategic by nature. It therefore follows that it is a concerted attempt by disgruntled groupings to place the leadership of AMCU under siege.

 

This motive becomes clearer when one pays close attention to recent murder conviction of an NUM member who murdered an AMCU member at Northam Platinum. This convicted felon was initially given life imprisonment which was reduced to 20 years because of his age. This wanton and unwarranted attack on AMCU members has escalated to coordinated and well-orchestrated assassinations targeting AMCU leaders. There are many more examples and the list is literally endless, and there have been no successful prosecutions to date.

 

AMCU wishes that the SAPS will conclude their investigation as soon as possible, so that the truth may come to the fore. As AMCU we pledge our help and support to ensure that these investigations are successfully completed. We are currently doing our own fact-finding and we are considering our options. One of the options being considered is legal action against these organisations which seek to defame AMCU and tarnish our reputation.

 

AMCU will continue the struggle to protect the rights, and promote the interests of our members. We will sustain our approach of integrity to the mandate we receive from our members, and we will remain steadfast in our consistent application of sound leadership principles. We will never be deterred by the antics of rival organisations, and we will never lose sight of our ultimate objective, namely social justice.