The South African Federation of Trade Unions is shocked at the horrific petrol bombing of a bus transporting mine workers from the Modikwa Platinum Mine in Limpopo, which left six dead and 28 seriously injured.
When the bus stopped at a pickup point at Driekop Village outside Burgersfort, two men jumped onto it and allegedly threw flammable liquid over the workers before jumping off and running away.
The workers were left amid huge balls of flaming liquid. Two women and four men, were burned beyond recognition and 28 others suffered serious burns.
Mine workers already risk their lives every day from an unacceptable level of accidents at work. It is absolutely disgusting that they should also lose their lives as a result of deliberate criminal attacks while on their way to and from work.
What makes this attack even more worrying is that it is not the first. There have been other incidents in and around Burgersfort in which trucks and buses were set alight, though with no loss of life until now.
The mine is co-owned by African Rainbow Minerals and Anglo Platinum, who have held urgent talks with unions and concerned stakeholders to try to establish the motive behind the petrol bombing.
Community leaders and local business people told Business Day that while the attack was initially thought to have been linked to protests over the non-implementation of social and labour plans by the mine, it was now believed there was a more complex conflict among local business people.
Thembisa Mphogo, a community leader, said: “I don’t think it’s about jobs because business people here have several ways they use to get what they want. This is senseless. It was out of the blue and it bothers us”.
If that is true that business leaders are using mine workers as targets in battles over their business interests, it is utterly deplorable. It is further evidence of the immorality of a capitalist system that lives can be lost so that other people can make profits.
SAFTU demands that the police should spare no time, trouble or expense to find those responsible and bring them to justice. They have offered a reward of R500 000 to anyone who can help them catch those responsible.
Anyone with information is requested to contact Captain Richard Boshomane at 079 894 5501 or Warrant Officer Mahlatji at 079 657 6873 or call the Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or contact the nearest police.
SAFTU sends its condolences to the families, friends and fellow-workers of those who died and best wishes to the injured for a quick and compete recovery.