An incident of alleged intimidation against Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim was an “honest mistake”, the office of eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said on Saturday.
“Those guards who followed Mr Jim were assigned to both the mayor and deputy mayor,” Nxumalo's spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) in a statement said Jim was followed by a “suspicious” car while leaving the University of Zululand on Thursday night. He was attending the SA Communist Party's 13th national congress.
Mofokeng said the deputy mayor was driven in an official car on Thursday, while Nxumalo took a car with Gauteng number plates.
“Mr Jim's car was very similar to the mayor's, so the guards followed it. It really was just an honest mistake.”
Numsa said Jim's security personnel stopped the car and confronted the occupants.
“When confronted, the occupants of the other car claimed that they thought the car belonged to... the mayor,” spokesman Castro Ngobese said.
“Surprisingly they did not know the name of the mayor, and even worse they could not produce authentic SA Police Service identification cards. The cars had false registration plates and were heavily armed.”
SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande said on Saturday that a group of legitimate security guards followed the wrong car.
He also accused the media of sensationalising the incident and portraying KwaZulu-Natal as a “killing ground”.
Numsa president Cedric Gina said earlier that the “intimidation” could be related to Jim's views on nationalisation.
“This is not the first time that something like this happened to him,” Gina said.
“Irvin Jim is the man who represents the positions of Numsa on various issues.
“Who knows where this group that intimidated him came from? Numsa's call for the nationalisation of mines is a call that makes all types of people angry. Some right-wing organisations might want to take the situation into their own hands.” -Sapa