(File photo) Forensic investigator, Paul O'Sullivan. Picture: Itumeleng English
HARARE - Paul O’ Sullivan, one of South Africa’s top forensic investigators, is ready to get to the bottom of the rising number of assassinations of mineworkers in the platinum belt, after being approached by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Amcu is the biggest union on the platinum belt, in the North West, and last week raised the red flag on the continuing bloodshed, particularly of its members since the Marikana massacre in 2012.

Amcu, which enjoys majority status at many companies, including Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, told the media last week it had enlisted the services of O’Sullivan, who has 37 years of law enforcement to step in.

O’Sullivan said: “We would like to go into the investigations objectively, get to the facts and find out who is behind the killings. I am not interested in politics,” he said. He also said that it was not the first time a trade union had asked for his services. “We have acted for other trade unions before, but not for murder. We have acted for unions on cases of corruption mainly,” said O’Sullivan.

He believed there was a third force involved in the killings and that he planned to carry out the investigations in conjuction with the police.

Politicised

“It is not our intention to replace the police and we intend to help bolster their investigations. I have been saying for years that crime intelligence in South Africa has been politicised. The money for intelligence is used to fight political battles, the sooner that gets resolved the better."

At a press conference in Johannesburg, Amcu president, Joseph Mathunjwa, said he was concerned with the slow pace of police investigations into the assassinations. Mathunjwa also said that he had requested an urgent meeting with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and alleged a third force was behind the killings.

“We are dismayed but not surprised by the tardiness of the police in investigating the killings and arresting the situation. We have warned how a climate of fear is being created so as to destroy democratic trade unionism and those that might wish to expose corruption,” said Mathunjwa.

Frans Cronje, the chief executive of the SA Institute for Race Relations, said he thought that many South Africans shared in the apparent frustration of trade union leaders that the security forces were not sufficiently geared to pre-empt and prevent violent flare ups such as those on the platinum belt.

“In a normal society it would be taken for granted that the police’s intelligence structures would nip violent flare ups in the bud - especially around known flash points. However, too much evidence has accumulated over recent years that police intelligence members have been distracted by political considerations. This takes us to the very serious accusation made by the Amcu leadership that a third-force is again at play on the platinum belt,” Cronje said.

Lommin said last week that it was worried about the rising number of assassination. Lonmin said this year three employees had been killed in cold blood including Tholakele Dlunga, 39, who was shot dead in front of his home in Wonderkop. Dlunga was a leader of Amcu and a health and safety official at the Rowland mine. The Chamber of Mines echoed Lonmin’s sentiment.

“In recent weeks, we have seen the appalling killings, many in assassination-style incidents where the victims were shot and killed, of a reported six trade unionists,” it said.

-BUSINESS REPORT