Amcu members face murder rap

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IOL BR Platinum _0253 Independent Newspapers. The National Union of Mineworkers says it has lost around 25 000 members since the start of labour unrest in the platinum belt.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is in the spotlight after two men identified by the police as its members appeared in court yesterday on charges of murdering Nobongile Norah Madolo, a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shop steward at Lonmin.

“We cannot deny or confirm that the men are our members. We are the majority [union] at Lonmin, it is possible that they are members,” Amcu national treasurer Jimmy Gama said yesterday.

North West police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the police had confirmed that the men who were arrested last month were Amcu members.

“It is clear the men are Amcu members, and we have confirmed this is the case with Amcu in the area. The union has never publicly denied that these are its members,” Ngubane said.

The men appeared before the Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court in Rustenburg yesterday for a formal bail hearing, which was postponed to Monday due to the ill-health of the investigating officer.

Eyewitnesses said yesterday that busloads of members of NUM, Amcu and the ANC Women’s League were in court to support their respective colleagues.

IOL BR Platinum _02321 (1) Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members, top, demonstrate at the Tlhabane Magistrates Court in Rustenburg yesterday, calling for their colleagues to be granted bail. Photo supplied. Independent Newspapers.

Amcu is apparently funding the legal representation of the two men, with Gama saying that subscription-paying members could not be turned away if they needed help.

Gama added that the allegation had to be proven in court.

“I cannot confirm that we have taken a decision to pay for the lawyers of the two men. If a member pays a subscription fee and comes to us for help, do we say ‘no we cannot help you’?” Gama asked.

A labour expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said union subscription fees were generally used for funding defence of workplace issues, such as unfair dismissals.

Madolo was gunned down outside her home near Lonmin’s Western division in August last year and one of the suspects, a 33-year-old man, was at some stage seen wearing an Amcu T-shirt.

Police found an Amcu membership card in the second suspect’s pocket.

One of the two men is also allegedly involved in the killing of Percy Letanang, a former NUM shop steward at Lonmin who was shot down at his home in Marikana in November last year.

The man appeared in court on Wednesday in connection with Letanang’s murder.

More than 40 people, including miners, police officers and security guards, died at Marikana in August 2012 amid union strife, and violence continued last year as the battle for membership intensified.

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