JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A senior member of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was shot dead overnight in the restive platinum belt town of Marikana, a union spokesman said on Friday.
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.
“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.
“We appeal for our members to remain calm while the police carry out their investigation,” he said.
Police spokesman Thulani Ngubane confirmed a man was shot 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 epicenter 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 recognized 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 labor ally of the ruling ANC.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard and Sherilee Lakmidas; Editing by Ralph Boulton