Premier Sihle ZikalalaPicture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Premier Sihle ZikalalaPicture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

KZN Premier calls for calm after RBM general manager’s assassination

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published May 24, 2021

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DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has called for calm following the cold-blooded murder of Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) general manager Nico Swart early this morning.

“We call for calm at RBM and among all those affected and impacted by this incident, and to allow the current process of discussion and negotiations facilitated by provincial government at RBM to proceed,” the premier said.

Swart was seated in his vehicle parked at the intersection of Dune and Kolstert in Meerensee, when he was shot dead.

Provincial SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said that at around 6.45am the manager was shot while driving in his car to work.

She said three unknown men shot at the vehicle and fled on foot.

"He died at the scene," Gwala said.

Zikalala said on Tuesday last week that he had chaired groundbreaking discussions between RBM leadership and local amakhosi to iron out long-standing issues.

The meeting was attended by Members of the executive council, the district and local mayors, amakhosi and RBM management.

He said the traditional communities on whose land RBM is mining were represented by the traditional authorities of Mbuyazi, Mkhwanazi, Dube and Sokhulu.

"All stakeholders agreed that the relevant departments of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, and Community Safety and Liaison, working under the leadership of the Office of the Premier, would take matters further over the coming weeks," he said.

Zikalala said those processes were continuing.

"We will not allow anything to stop or distract us from finding each other around all the issues that have led to the instability in the area and insecurity of the massive investment by RBM in these traditional communities.

’’We must identify the criminal elements and isolate them from the majority, who want nothing else but peaceful coexistence and partnership between government and the miners in the Richards Bay area," he said.

At the centre of the latest discussions is RBM’s latest investment in Zulti South, which is projected to deliver R100 billion in economic value to the country, with R40bn coming in the first 12 years of the mine being operational.

The other issues involved the finalisation of compensation to communities whose homes were damaged by RBM mining operations and the payment of outstanding dividends to the Mkhwanazi traditional council.

Zikalala expressed his condolences to the Swart family and Swart's colleagues.

The IFP spokesperson on Community, Safety and Liaison in KZN, MB Gwala, also expressed concern for the shooting.

"We call on law enforcement agencies to act swiftly and leave no stone unturned in unmasking the plot and the real motives behind this heinous acts of murder," Gwala said.

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