Police have not yet been able to establish whether two men arrested in possession of dangerous weapons during a strike at Barberton Mines in Mpumalanga were part of a plot to assassinate a top National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) official …
According to NUM deputy regional chairperson, Makhosonke Magudulela, the men were arrested shortly after he was forced to cut short his speech on Thursday. This was after he heard there were five “assassins” in the crowd of the mineworkers he was addressing.
“On hearing the news, the NUM members I was addressing got angry. They attacked the men and only managed to apprehend two out of five. The two were found in possession of pangas while the three other men managed to escape into the bushes,” said Magudulela.
Barberton police spokesperson, Constable Tutu Nkosi, confirmed the arrest of the two men, but said the assassination plot had not yet been established.
“It is unclear what was their motive to bring dangerous weapons to the strike. At the moment, we can’t link them to any assassination plot,” said Nkosi.
The striking workers are employed at the three consortiums belonging to Barberton Mines including Fairview, New Consort and Sheba.
The strike started on Tuesday evening when the protesters prevented vehicles transporting workers from accessing the Sheba shaft for their nightshift.
It continued on Wednesday and Thursday despite threats from management that they would be dismissed.
Barberton Mines general manager, Casper Strydom, said the company was losing money while the workers were on strike. “We’ve lost roughly R8 million in production,” he said.
The two suspects are expected to appear in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on Friday.