MAC: Mines and Communities

South Africa: RBM mining executive gunned down in KwaZulu-Natal

Published by MAC on 2021-05-30
Source: ECR, TimesLIVE

Richards Bay Minerals has confirmed its general manager of operations has been killed.

The fatal shooting of Nico Swart, RBM’s senior manager, comes in the wake of discussions held among company leadership and local amakhosi around long-standing issues.
Previous on MAC:
2016-09-05 South Africa: Fresh protests shut Rio's Richards Bay mine
2016-05-10 South Africa: Community blockade closes Rio Tinto mine

KZN premier calls for calm after RBM mining executive gunned down


24 May 2021

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has appealed for calm after a hit on a senior executive at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) on Monday. 

In a statement on Monday, Zikalala said the shooting of Nico Swart, one of RBM’s most senior managers, comes in the wake of groundbreaking discussions held with company leadership and local amakhosi to iron out long-standing issues last Tuesday.

The meeting — chaired by Zikalala and attended by members of the executive council, amakhosi and management — was held to discuss RBM’s latest investment in Zulti South, as well as the finalisation of compensation to communities whose homes were damaged by RBM mining operations and the payment of outstanding dividends to the Mkhwanazi Traditional Council.

Zulti South is projected to deliver R100bn economic value to the country, with R40bn coming in the first 12 years of the mine being operational.

“We call for calm at RBM and among all those affected by this incident and to allow the current process of discussion and negotiations facilitated by provincial government at RBM to proceed,” said Zikalala.

“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 co-operative 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 in the coming weeks.

“Those processes are continuing and we 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 huge 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.”

Swart, who was general manager of operations at RBM, died in a hail of bullets in Richards Bay while on his way to work on Monday.

“That the incident took place in broad daylight, during rush hour and in full view of pedestrians and motorists, indicates the callous nature of the attackers. At the same time, we hope that this provides a window that will help in the identification and arrest of the perpetrators,” said Zikalala.

“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.”

Richards Bay mining boss killed in ambush

Nothando Mkhize

May 24, 2021

Richards Bay Minerals has confirmed its general manager of operations has been killed.

Nico Swart was ambushed in Meerensee on Monday morning.

KZN SAPS spokesperson Thembeka Mbele said: "It is alleged that today [Monday] at about 6:45, the deceased was shot while driving in his car on his way to work at the corner of Dune and Kolstert Road by three unknown men who were on foot.

"He was declared dead at the scene and the motive of the killing is unknown at the moment."

RBM, which is owned by Rio Tinto, says Swart joined the company in 2006 and has served in various leadership positions.

The company says it's offering counselling and other support to his family and colleagues.

The 47-year-old Swart - who was the General Manager of Operational Services for the mine - is survived by his wife and two children.
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