The town of Robega in the North West has been rocked by violence after residents protested following the killing of a 37-year-old resident, allegedly at the hands of security at a local mine.
On Friday, North West police said no arrests had been made after Kenneth Mputle was shot dead during a protest at Bafokeng Rasimone mine in Robega, near Rustenburg.
“No arrests made. It is uncertain who shot the victim, as the community as well as the security were allegedly shooting at one another,” said the police’s Lieutanant Colonel Adele Myburgh.
She said the police were called to the scene on Wednesday at 7:40pm and found the body of a man.
“I cannot at this stage confirm which side killed the victim, either community member or security.”
Police were investigating a case of murder.
Residents barricaded the roads in the village on Thursday, protesting against the death of their fellow villager. They alleged that Mputle was shot by mine security at North shaft when they marched to demand that the mine must reinstate former employees.
The community alleges they were not given a chance to explain their grievances, and were instead greeted with a hail of live ammunition and rubber bullets.
Headman Tommy Mntande said the group had no weapons, which could have spelled something different.
“The aim was to begin open communication with mine management. We do not understand what happened and why they shot us because we were not armed,” he said.
“We were outside the North shaft when a mine nyala came straight at us and started shooting. Everyone ran for cover, but it was unfortunate that one of us was killed.”
Mputle allegedly died from two gunshot wounds, one in the head and the other in the back.
The community’s demands included the amendment of housing contracts at Waterkloof Hill Estate. According to the fired employees, the houses were provided on a rent-to-buy basis, but they were later notified that was not the case. They want to buy the houses.
Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) which owns the mine said a group of more than 100 protesters, including former employees and unknown persons, attempted to gain unlawful access to the North shaft premises on Wednesday.
“The premises were locked and secured by mine security personnel. As a last resort, and to prevent damage to property and injury to mine personnel, mine security sought to disperse the crowd, using rubber bullets and paint-balls,” the company said.
“During the course of the incident, an individual within the crowd was shot and killed by live ammunition. Based on preliminary evidence, including video footage, it is believed that the shooting was from within the group of protesters. The deceased was not employed by RBPlat.”
A conveyor belt was burnt, while a boom gate as well as a guard house were also damaged.
“The protest by community members stems from the dismissal of 14 employees by the company in December 2017, following unprotected industrial action [including threatening other employees and damage to property] that ensued when services to a number of homes in the nearby Waterkloof Estate were erroneously suspended by the local municipality.”
The mine called on local community members to refrain from engaging in violence, threatening behaviour and damage to property.
“The company notes widespread protest action currently underway in the Rustenburg area unrelated to mining issues, and calls for calm by all parties.”
At least eight guest houses were set alight when taxi operators “raided” houses suspected of being drug dens and brothels on Wednesday.
– African News Agency (ANA)