Johannesburg - A key leader of the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in the platinum belt has been arrested – and it is being alleged by some it is part of plot to halt a strike by more than 80 000 mineworkers.
Siphamandla Makhanya was arrested for attempted murder on Tuesday. Amcu general secretary Jeffery Mphahlele said he was informed about the arrest from Makhanya via SMS.
t is believed Makhanya and another man, Jacob Koh, were arrested for allegedly attacking a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) employee on his way to work.
Inter-union rivalry in the platinum sector has resulted in the deaths of dozens of Amcu and NUM members.
Last week, NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said 40 members from his union had died since the Marikana massacre when police gunned down 34 miners in 2012.
But the Democratic Left Front (DLF), a loose alliance of organisations and members, believes the charges against Makhanya are trumped up. He has played a prominent role in the current platinum strike, and in one in 2012 that had miners down tools for months.
“Makhanya is a DLF member and Amplats worker leader and Amcu shop steward. This is a clear attempt to neutralise one of the key leaders of the strike at Amplats through spurious charges,” said DLF spokesman Bheki Buthelezi.
“Again the police are intervening on the side of the bosses to break up the strike.
As the platinum strikes drags into its second month and the bosses refuse to budge, they are growing more desperate to break the strike. This is another example of police directly intervening on behalf of capital as at Marikana.”
Since the Marikana massacre there have been several allegations of police acting on behalf of companies, and killing striking mineworkers. Amplats spokesman Mpumi Sithole would not comment on the claims.
Police Brigadier Thulane Ngubane said the arrests followed an attempted murder at Khuseleka shaft 1 near Rustenburg on February 3. “It is alleged a victim, 51, was on his way to work when offered a lift. The car parked near picketing and striking mine employees.
“The victim was allegedly intimidated, forced to walk to nearby stalls and undressed. It is alleged he was later taken to a dumping site and assaulted severely with stones. The man escaped and was rescued by mine security. He lost two fingers.”
The pair will be in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.