Two for­mer Amcu mem­bers claim the union is run­ning a well-man­aged project to kill ri­vals and rule the North West plat­inum belt

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kill him.

“I can only try, but the project to si­lence us is well fi­nanced and they can still find me here at home. I can be hit any time. I live in fear and am look­ing over my shoul­der ev­ery now and then,” he said.

Gamede is one of at least eight for­mer mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) who have fled Marikana, North West, amid killings sparked by union strife on the plat­inum belt.

His name, he in­sists, ap­pears on a hit list.

“I know I am a tar­get. Two of my friends have died this year and there have been at least two at­tempts on my life while I was still liv­ing in Marikana,” Gamede said.

Why would any­one want to kill him?

“I know too much. If I can open my mouth the in­for­ma­tion that will flow out of it would re­veal the real Amcu and how peo­ple have died from 2012 un­til now,” he said.

“A lot has been said about those [34 strik­ing Lon­min min­ers] po­lice killed on Au­gust 16 2012, but many oth­ers have been killed by fel­low minework­ers in a project aimed at cat­a­pult­ing Amcu to ma­jor­ity union sta­tus at the ex­pense of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM),” he al­leged.

“If any­one can as­sure my safety, then I would open up and tell a tale of a well-man­aged project which as­sured that Amcu be­came the ma­jor­ity union. This in­cludes the spilling of blood through which most work­ers had no choice but to join the union for their own safety. They want to si­lence peo­ple like us who know a lot that can taint Amcu’s im­age.”

City Press trav­elled to the East­ern Cape last week to meet two min­ers who fled Marikana for their lives. The men, who both par­tic­i­pated in the deadly wild­cat strike in Marikana in 2012, were too ter­ri­fied to be named or pho­tographed, or to have the lo­ca­tions of their new homes re­vealed.

Dur­ing two clan­des­tine in­ter­views, at a guest house and in the car on the side of a busy road, both told tales of a hit list con­tain­ing names of Amcu mem­bers who asked in­con­ve­nient ques­tions of the union’s lead­er­ship. Both said they had in­for­ma­tion about the other mur­ders that could lead to the ar­rests of those in­volved.

But de­spite the fact that North West po­lice had es­tab­lished a task team to in­ves­ti­gate the killings – six mur­ders so far – nei­ther of the men said de­tec­tives had ap­proached or called them for more in­for­ma­tion.

An­other for­mer Lon­min miner and ex-Amcu branch ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Mkhokheli Jali*, said he felt safer at home, but not en­tirely. He fled Marikana in the mid­dle of the night about two months ago, quit­ting his job at Lon­min in fear for his life.

“Just like re­gional or­gan­iser Mawethu Steven who was shot dead in 2013, my name ended up on the hit list be­cause I asked dif­fi­cult ques­tions. Steven got killed for push­ing for Amcu to hold its na­tional con­fer­ence, where he was the pre­ferred can­di­date for the deputy pres­i­dent po­si­tion,” Jali said.

“He is the man who lit­er­ally brought Amcu to Lon­min and pop­u­larised it across the plat­inum belt af­ter leav­ing the NUM, but he never lived to see it.

“I have never put my hand on an Amcu con­sti­tu­tion or laid my eyes on such a doc­u­ment. Mem­bers are al­ways told about the con­sti­tu­tion,” he al­leged.

Af­ter be­ing sent a list of ques­tions this week, Amcu pres­i­dent Joseph Mathun­jwa in­stead is­sued a public state­ment in which he at­tacked City Press. He de­nied all the al­le­ga­tions and in­sisted his union was not in­volved in the killings.

He said Amcu would not mur­der peo­ple and then hire pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Paul O’Sul­li­van, to probe these crimes. In ad­di­tion, he said Amcu had put up a R100 000 re­ward for any in­for­ma­tion that could lead to the ar­rest of the per­pe­tra­tors.

Mean­while, an NUM mem­ber, Nkosi­nathi Man­tashe, was re­cently ar­rested on charges of at­tempted mur­der for al­legedly shoot­ing Amcu branch chair­per­son Mal­i­bongwe Mdazo in July.

Both the NUM and Amcu have dis­tanced them­selves from the mur­ders.

Mathun­jwa ac­cused po­lice of be­ing “tardy in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killings” de­spite Amcu hav­ing pro­vided “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence”. He said se­cu­rity forces were sub­vert­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

NUM spokesper­son Livhuwani Mamm­buru said his union “will never kill any mineworker to re­gain ground on the plat­inum belt”. He said the NUM had fought trib­al­ism and man­aged to unite work­ers across tribal lines.

“So it is in­deed mis­chievous for any­one now to start as­so­ci­at­ing this mighty union with any sort of killings or vi­o­lent acts.”

*Not their real names

What could po­lice do to bet­ter in­ves­ti­gate the plat­inum belt mur­ders?

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