Second Worker Killed in Northam Platinum-Mine Union Violence

  • Union member gunned down near mine in South Africa on Sunday
  • Northam suspends operations at Zondereinde mine amid violence

A second person was killed near Northam Platinum Ltd.’s Zondereinde mine, the world’s deepest for the metal, in clashes between rival unions after an employee was gunned down near the operation on Sunday.

“We suspect that it is out of retaliation," South African Police Service spokeswoman Ronel Otto said by phone.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers, which represents most employees at the mine, and the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union clashed on Monday on a road near the operation, which is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the town of Northam in Limpopo province. The situation is now calm and there are no suspects in either killing, Otto said.

The man shot dead Sunday was a member of the NUM’s branch committee, said Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the union. “The situation is very tense there,” he said. Northam has suspended operations at the mine after “sporadic incidents of intimidation and violence” spread following yesterday’s attack, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Northam, police and unions are meeting to try to resolve the impasse and ensure that operations resume as soon as possible, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

As recently as four years ago, the NUM was South Africa’s largest union. Now it’s losing ground to the AMCU, which became the biggest representative of platinum workers following a violent five-month strike that crippled the operations of the world’s three largest producers in 2014.

AMCU spokesman Manzini Zungu didn’t immediately respond to a call and text message seeking comment.

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