South African police are investigating the murder of an employee of Lonmin Plc (LMI), the world’s third-biggest platinum producer, following the killing of two other workers near its mines in the last month.
“The case is not linked to recently reported cases of murder whereby labor union officials were involved, although the victim is an employee of Lonmin,” Sabata Mokgwabone, a South African Police Service spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The 32-year-old man was shot dead on the street next to a tavern at Nkaneng shanty town, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of Lonmin’s Marikana mine, he said.
At least one member each from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the biggest representative of lower-skilled employees at Lonmin, and its rival National Union of Mineworkers have been killed in the Rustenburg area 116 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg in the last month. Lonmin has upgraded security at its mines and on June 6 asked for increased police presence around its Marikana operations to help relieve tensions.
Violence has surrounded competition between the NUM, an ally of the ruling African National Congress, and the AMCU, which is now the biggest representative of employees at the world’s three biggest platinum companies, all of which have the bulk of their operations in South Africa. Unrest at Marikana in August that stemmed from a pay dispute left at least 44 dead, including 34 protesters shot by police in a single day.
“The victim was allegedly running behind his friends when gun shots were heard, and it was later realized that he had been shot several times,” Mokgwabone said. “Suspects in this case are unknown, and no arrest has been made at this stage.”
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