South African mine manager implicated in deadly Sierra Leone riot
Durban - A South African senior mine manager is among five people arrested for inciting a riot near the Marampa mine in Sierra Leone that claimed the lives of two people in Lunsar on April 30. According to media reports, the riot was started following the arrest of a local youth leader.
In a statement, SL Mining Limited, a subsidiary of commodities trader Gerald Group, expressed concern at the arrest of the five expatriates. They have further denied the group's involvement in the riot.
"We condemn any such acts of violence and would never condone any such behaviour. We are concerned at the government’s actions of allowing the arrest of individuals, the targeting and removal of our senior employees, when any such investigation could have taken place at the mine site.
"Our senior employees at SL Mining do not pose any flight risk, the airport in Sierra Leone remains closed during the Covid-19 pandemic and the management of SL Mining are astonished that the government has taken our employees out of the safe sterile environment on the mine site during the Covid-19 pandemic," the group said.
They have expressed their concern for the health and safety of the men.
"We strongly object to their arrest and continued detention. We also find this concerning given that we have over 150 additional employees currently on-site, and almost a thousand former employees who are local residents waiting patiently since September to return to work at the Marampa mine. We are also aware that the government is pursuing and has arrested, typically without charge, a number of these former and current employees as local residents in a private capacity," the group added.
In September 2019, SL Mining was forced to put the mine into care and maintenance due to the abrupt and unlawful restrictions on iron ore exports starting on July 3, 2019, and production at the Marampa mine ceased following other subsequent actions taken by the government, culminating in the purported cancellation of SL Mining’s mining license on October 7, 2019.
This purported cancellation was unlawful and invalid and was contrary to the amended Order of the Emergency Arbitrator officiating in the ICC arbitration between SL Mining and the Government of Sierra Leone.
No formal charges has been laid as yet and the company's offer of bail was denied.IOL