Brits - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa protected members implicated in corruption, the Brits Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday.
Amcu's internal conflicts were revealed at the bail hearing of former and current union members accused of plotting to kill union leaders in what appears to be infighting for leadership positions.
Zamelekhaya Mboxela, a former Amcu vice chairperson at Rowland shaft, told the court he believed Mathunjwa was protecting leaders implicated in corrupt activities, because he never acted on evidence of corruption presented to him.
"We took evidence of corruption to [the] head office, they promised to investigate and come back to us, instead we were expelled from the union," Mboxela said.
Prosecutor Cassius Mona asked him whether he was aggrieved by his expulsion from Amcu.
Mboxela responded saying: "The expulsion came from head office, I was scared to challenge it."
Mona retorted: "In an attempt to draw Mathunjwa's attention to you, you closed Amcu office?"
Mboxela responded saying: "We did not close the office, the workers closed the offices because of the service they received from their leaders, they complained about us, they complained about poor service and wanted Mathunjwa and other leaders at head office to come and listen to their problems.
"We wrote letters to them, instead of them coming down to the workers, we were expelled."
He testified that as a result of unresolved problems, divisions were created within Amcu.
Mona told him that divisions were created by the groups aggrieved when Zithobile Mangqo commonly known as David, was removed as chairperson and replaced by Malibongwe Mdazo.
"I put it to you that there was a group supporting Mangqo and other group supporting Mdazo. You were not happy and you close down offices."
Mboxela said the division was created by the non-resolution of workers problems.
"I put it to you that you told mourners at the funeral of [Zingisa] Mzendana that Mathunjwa deposited R3 million into a bank account so that Mdazo can hire hit men..."
Mboxela said he spoke at the funeral because Mzendana was a leader, but did not disclose whether he told mourners Mathunjwa gave Mdazo R3 million to hire hit men.
Mona charged that Mboxela resigned from Lonmin and fled to the Eastern Cape after he realised that their plot to kill Amcu leaders was discovered.
Mboxela, Lungisa Madiba, 35, Juke Mjakane, 34, Sthembe Jakane, 41, Xolile Madikane, 39, Mthethelethu Mtshukuka, 34, Simphiwe Silwane and Peterson Siyaya, were applying for bail. They are charged with conspiracy to murder and attempted murder.
The State alleges that the accused were expelled from Amcu as leaders, the union appointed new leaders and the group plotted to take them out of office.
Some resigned from their work at Lonmin and orchestrated plans to eliminate Amcu leaders.
Twelve people have been arrested in this case, two of them Nkosinathi Mantashe and Samkelo Mkhutshwa were released on bail, while Zithobile Mangqo and Bongile Cingo were released on warning.
Mona told the court that Siyaya who is a member of a rival union, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was link to the case for allegedly bringing money to conspirators to pay hit men.
Siyaya denied his involvement in the plot to kill Amcu members. The case was postponed to April 11 for further hearing on the bail application.
Amcu members were killed in a rapid succession in September last year, at least 11 cases of murder and attempted murder were reported in the North West platinum belt between May and October last year.
Nine people were killed and two wounded. Majority of the victims were reported to have been members of Amcu.
Six cases of murder were reported in Phokeng, two cases of murder and one of attempted murder were reported in Marikana.
African News Agency/ANA