Union Official Shot Near Lonmin’s Marikana Platinum Mine

A National Union of Mineworkers official was killed close to Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum mine in northwestern South Africa, where 34 people died in a single day during protests last year.

A “chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers at Lonmin’s Western Platinum had been shot dead,” union spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said today by text message. “He was killed last night in what appears to be a resurgence of violence in the area.”

Inter-union rivalry has fueled tension at South African platinum mines, where the NUM has lost its status as the most powerful workers’ body to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. At least three other union members have died this year as the NUM and the AMCU compete for membership.

President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission to probe the deaths of 44 people during violence in August last year at Lonmin’s operations, including 34 killed on Aug. 16 when police opened fire on a crowd of striking workers at the Marikana mine, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

The NUM official was shot while he was driving, Sue Vey, a spokeswoman for Lonmin, said by phone.

“Regrettably, he succumbed from his injuries later on,” Vey said. “It is being treated as an isolated incident by the South African Police Service.”

A spokesman for the police, Thulani Ngubane, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by phone. The South African Press Association cited Ngubane as saying the slain man was attacked between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. yesterday and shot eight times.

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