Sunday 1 October 2017

Regional mine manager assassinated in Free State Province, South Africa.

Police in South Africa, are investigating after the assassination of Simphiwe Kubheka, a regional manager with Harmony Mining responsible for the Tshepong and Phakisa mines in Free State Province on Thursday 28 September 2017. Mr Kubekha was shot twice in the head by unknown assailants while travelling home from work in his car.

The murder is thought likely to have been carried out by illegal miners; or zama zamas, who have been associated with a string of crimes, including murders and kidnappings, around the mines in recent months. Illegal mining is a growing problem in South Africa, fuelled by widespread poverty and the high value of the country's mineral resources. 

 The Harmony Phakisa Mine in Free State Province, South Africa. Bruce Paulmac/Wikimedia Commons.

Increasingly these illegal miners are operating within the concessions of large mining companies, which are widely seen as exploiting national resources for the benefit of the country's small elite and overseas shareholders. Illegal mining activities within the operations of large companies, which often involves employees of those companies, are seen both as undermining the profits of those companies, and endangering the lives of other workers at the sites, as illegal miners seldom stick to the strict health and safety rules of legitimate mining operations. In recent months a number of miners have been dismissed from mines in the area, escalating the conflict between the mining companies and zama-zamas, which has led to a number of retaliatory attacks against mine managers.

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