As the country reeled in shock at the deaths of Lonmin mine workers in Marikana on Thursday, the company released a statement saying its CEO was ill.
“It is with regret that the company must announce that Ian Farmer, the chief executive officer, has been diagnosed with a serious illness and is presently in hospital.
“The board, on behalf of the entire company, wishes him a full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with Ian and his family at this difficult time,” Lonmin said in a statement.
It said the day-to-day running of the business would taken by over executive committee member Roger Phillimor.
A shootout between police and strikers at mine in Marikana in the North West ended in at least 18 people dead or wounded.
The count was made by a Sapa reporter on the scene, who said the victims were lying in the veld.
The shooting erupted when police sought to disperse armed striking workers who had gathered on a hill in the area.
Ten people, including two security guards and two police officers, had already been killed in violent protests the past week.
Earlier, the platinum producer issued a warning to strikers to return to work within 24 hours, or face dismissal.
Lonmin said had it lost 15 000 ounces of platinum production since the illegal strike started last Friday. - Sapa