Miner’s family counts cost of Amcu’s terror
Rival NUM hopes jail term sends message of ‘harsh punishment’
JACQUES Naude’s favourite breakfast, an egg-and-polony sandwich, was waiting for him on the kitchen table. As usual, his eight-year-old son, Rupert, was dressed, waiting for his father to take him to school.
But when a car pulled up in the driveway of their home in Middelburg in Mpumalanga on the morning of October 17 2011, it was not the one belonging to Naude, a senior plant foreman and doting father.
Instead, two managers of the Woestalleen colliery and a pastor emerged.
The news they brought shattered the lives of Elsa Naude and her two children. Her husband, 31, had been shot dead that morning at the mine, where Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members were on strike.
His murder was one of the first linked to Amcu’s rise and to the union’s growing reputation for violent strike action.
He belonged to the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and his crime, it seems, was going to work when miners had been warned to stay away.
He was nervous when he reported for duty the previous night, telling his superiors he would try to cope with a skele- ton staff of 10 because others had stayed away from work because of intimidation.
In the early hours, he went to investigate a faulty wire. It had been sabotaged by Amcu members to lead him into an ambush. Naude was shot in the head and his attackers fled.
In the Middelburg Circuit Court this week, Judge Bill Prinsloo sentenced Amcu shop steward Aaron Mavimbela to 20 years’ jail for Naude’s murder.
Co-accused Mmeleni Zulu died while the trial was under way and charges against three others were withdrawn.
Handing down the judgment, Prinsloo said it had to be made clear that violence and murders during strikes would not be tolerated by the courts.
He leaned heavily on testimony by specialist forensic investigator Danie Harmse, who was employed by the Woestalleen mine, that violence was spiralling out of control.
Harmse, testifying in aggravation of sentence, told the court that from 2011, excluding the Marikana massacre, 164 violent crime incidents had been brought to his attention.
This figure was provided by police in North West and included 14 murders, 29 assaults and numerous cases of arson and intimidation.
“It is my personal opinion that we have seen a sharp increase in violence during strike action . . . this case [involving Naude] was one of the first,” said Harmse.
Elsa Naude, speaking from her new home, said she could not bear being in court. She and Rupert had had intensive therapy after the murder. She is now engaged and pregnant.
Her daughter, Xanthe, now
Jacques also belonged to a union. I understand people want a better life. But why kill people? What good does that possibly bring?
three years old, was 10 months at the time of the murder.
On Thursday, when her mother pulled out photographs from the family album, she pointed to one of Jacques Naude and said: “Pappa [Daddy].”
“I still have questions about why Jacques was killed,” said Elsa. “It’s all so senseless. He wasn’t a mine owner who could give the Amcu guys better salaries. He was just a worker, like them.
“But they took my kids’ dad away from them forever.”
She was not in court to hear Mavimbela say, through his lawyer, that his heart went out to the Naude family. She is not in a forgiving mood in any case. “His killer deserves nothing more than life imprisonment. He took a life — now he must give his life,” she said.
When she heard of the Marikana massacre less than a year after her own husband’s death, it brought back painful memories. Even now, when she hears news of the ongoing platinum belt mine strike by Amcu, the name of the union sends shivers down her spine.
“Jacques also belonged to a union. I understand people want a better life. But why kill people? What good does that possibly bring?”
Her husband brought home about R17 000 a month.
NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu welcomed the sentencing, but said his union would have been happier had the killer been sentenced to life. “We have been saying authorities are too slow to act when our members are killed by other unions during strikes. We hope this sends a message that harsh punishment awaits them.”
Mavimbela’s sentencing would not have escaped the attention of Amcu’s leadership, whose demands for criminal charges against its members to be dropped by mining companies has thrown another spanner in the works, preventing the end of the five-month-long platinum industry strike.
The strike has crippled the industry and employees have lost more than R10-billion in wages.
By Friday, companies’ accumulated losses stood at more than R23.4-billion.