LEPHALALE — On Tuesday 20 October 2020, Lucky Siswe Khuzwayo (25) was fatally wounded by a rubber bullet that was shot at him, after he allegedly unlawfully entered the Exxaro Mine premises.
According to Warrant Officer Frans Mokoena, Lephalale SAPS Zone 3 spokesperson, the deceased was part of a community protest. The protesters entered private property owned by Exxaro near the Grootegeluk mine. “No one is allowed to enter a national key point (such as Exxaro) without permission. There are consequences,” W.O. Mokoena said.
W.O. Mokoena added that the shot was fired by a member of a private security company.
The protesters set fire to part of the veld and a conveyor belt leading out of the mine. Major damage was done to infrastructure, including traffic lights, power boxes and road signs.
Exxaro responded to the incident as follows:
“Exxaro Resources (“Exxaro”) acknowledges with great sadness the loss of life of a local community member of Lephalale. The deceased was part of a community protest that entered the private property owned by Exxaro near it’s Grootegeluk mine operations, which protestors set fire to a part of the veld and a conveyor belt leading out of the mine. The community member died on the scene after a fatal rubber bullet shot following an exchange with a private security company. We convey our sympathies to the family and community members on this unfortunate loss of life. We will be liaising with the family pending the police investigation.
Over the past few weeks, Exxaro and key Lephalale Local Municipality leaders, led by the LLM Mayor Councilor Jack Maeko, have been in a structured process to conduct consultative discussions to resolve the issues that led to protest marches to Exxaro’s assets at its Grootegeluk mine complex. The Mine Management has been engaged in the structured process to address issues related to local recruitment, local procurement, enterprise and supplier development, skills development, and social investment initiatives. Members of the community engaged in a parallel process of illegal protests outside the structured process on a number of occasions during these consultations, resulting in violent actions that led to the destruction of critical infrastructure and the fatal injury to one of the protesters on the morning of Tuesday 20th October 2020.
Exxaro exercises fair corporate governance processes in relation to employment and procurement opportunities to provide transparent and unfettered access to local community members and South African society. We will continue to address these issues of concern to reach a long-term resolution on future opportunities for the benefit of community members.
Whilst the community unrest disrupted onsite activities, the impact will not be material to the mine’s production and sales.”
Eleven people were arrested and appeared in Lephalale Magistrate’s Court. According to W.O. Mokoena, they were released without bail.