The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will not be intimidated despite the murder of another senior union official at the Lonmin mine village in Wonderkop near Rustenburg on Friday night, the union said.
“Last night, 22 September 2017, another one of our leaders was gunned down. This time it was Mvelisi Biyela, our health and safety office bearer at Lonmin. He was killed outside his house in front of his wife and six-year-old daughter [at 8.30pm],” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Saturday.
This brings the number of Amcu officials killed over the past few months to at least five.
“His killing has left us chilled, shaken, but steadfast in our determination to defeat this outrage. Those that think their cowardice can defeat this mighty union built on the spirit of many that have paid the ultimate price, spilt their blood, left us with just their bones, must think again. We will not be intimidated. We will not be cowed,” Mathunjwa said.
“[Friday night’s] killing tells us that a war has been declared against Amcu and if it is war then let it be known we can fight. We don’t have, nor do we believe in killing machines to wage war. We will not fight with bullets, guns, and anonymous hitmen, but with mass action.
“We will fight with a much greater weapon – the unity of Amcu, the unity of mineworkers, the unity of the working class. It is quite outrageous that the killing of our members continues, now on a daily basis with no response from the state, the mining industry, or the media,” Mathunjwa said.
“Once again we are reminded of the apartheid’s state third force campaign against the democratic forces of this country. We wonder whether a new campaign is being unleashed by the state and its allies against our militant and independent union. We wonder if this is a continuation of the dirty tricks campaign led by President [Jacob] Zuma and the NIA [formerly the National Intelligence Agency and now the State Security Agency] when they sponsored the building of an opposition union, WAU [Workers’ Association Union], aimed at defeating Amcu?”
“We are not going to fold our arms as our members are killed, their wives left as widows, and their children grow-up in single parent families without a father.”
Amcu valued the lives of its members, of all platinum workers, and of all mineworkers. For Amcu an injury to one was an injury to all. For Amcu, this was not just a slogan. It was a way of life. It was the foundation of what the union had been built on.
“Our members will not be slaughtered like flies. We will fight back and we will fight hard. We do not want crocodile tears from the government, management, and the media about action that jeopardises jobs. What about inaction that jeopardises lives?”
Over the past months more than five Amcu leaders had been killed. No arrests had been made. Amcu conducted a private investigation and “the assailants with evidence was handed to the police. At the point of making arrest the police were restrained by higher authority”.
On Tuesday, Amcu would hold a press conference to to announce a campaign of rolling mass action to defeat the campaign to kill the union and its leadership, Mathunjwa said.