By Kaya 959 News
Just days after a meeting was held to tackle long-standing issues between traditional leaders and Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), three men walked up to RBM’s General Manager of Operations and shot him dead.
Nico Swart was gunned down while parked at an intersection in Richards Bay on Monday morning.
KwaZulu-Natal SAPS spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala, said three men opened fire on Swart’s vehicle before fleeing on foot. She said police are investigating further.
Premier calls for calm
KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, has called for calm.
“We call on the police to make this a priority investigation and to get to the bottom of this criminal act. Only swift arrest will send a clear message that we will not allow violence to be used to resolve our differences, no matter what they are, or how big or intractable the problems might be,” said Premier Zikalala.
He called for the current process of discussions and negotiations, being facilitated by the government, to proceed.
On Tuesday 18 May 2021, groundbreaking discussions with RBM leadership and local Amakhosi were held to iron out long-standing issues.
The meeting was chaired by Premier Zikalala and attended by Members of the Executive Council, the district and local mayors, Amakhosi. as well as RBM management.
Zikalala 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 Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, 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 are continuing and the government 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 R100bn economic value to the country with R40bn coming in the first 12 years of the mine being operational.
The other issues involved the finalization of compensation to communities whose homes were damaged by RBM mining operations and the payment of outstanding dividends to the Mkhwanazi Traditional Council.
Swart was survived by his wife and two children.
“Our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathies go to his family, friends and colleagues. The company is offering all the necessary support, counselling and assistance to his family and colleagues during this difficult time,” RBM communications manager Zanele Zungu said
Swart, 47, joined RBM in 2006 and has served in various leadership positions within the company