NEWS & ANALYSIS

Numsa condemns assassination of Pondoland community leader

Union says community under attack from powerful capitalist in league with local thugs

Numsa condemns assassination of Pondoland community leader

24 March 2016

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa condemns the murder of Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, Chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) in the Eastern Cape. He was shot eight times in the head, in front of his wife and 15-year-old son, by assassins who claimed to be police officers.

The ACC and communities in Pondoland's Wild Coast have been fighting to stop an Australian mining company MRC and its local subsidiary TEM from mining titanium on the Xolobeni coastal dunes.

The ACC say that while they are shocked by the murder, they have been waiting for something like this to happen, following shootings in May last year in Xolobeni and over Christmas in Mdatya. Those accused of the Christmas shootings are out on bail and have been intimidating the Amadiba community, while the police refuse to co-operate with the traditional authorities to stop the violence. Rhadebe himself warned that there is a hit-list and that he was the number one target.

The community is under attack from powerful capitalist interests in league with local thugs. As the BCC says: “Our beloved Bazooka made the ultimate sacrifice defending our ancestral land of Amadiba on the Wild Coast… The Australian company and all the criminals in high positions who are eager to cut their piece of our land and fill their pockets with blood money, shall know that the Amadiba coastal community will not be intimidated into submission.”

MRC chairman Mark Caruso claims that “The company is in no way implicated in any form whatsoever in this incident. Statements to the contrary are simply unfounded. This company will not engage in any activity that incites violence.” 

Yet the battles for mining rights on the Wild Coast have continually been violent, and Caruso, whose company has also faced community resistance to its operations in Vredendal, Western Cape, reportedly quoted from the bible in an email to stakeholders last year that: “I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee”.

Numsa sends its condolences to Comrade Bazooka’s family and friends, and pledges its support to all the people of Pondoland who are standing up for their democratic rights not to be bulldozed by international capitalists and local gangsters into accepting the violation of their environment without their consent.

This shocking murder is further proof of the underlying criminality of capitalism which tramples on the right of the majority in the relentless pursuit of profits, and the collusion of the state, in the form of the SAPS, who refuse to take seriously the involvement of violent criminals. It adds support for the campaign for a new democratic, socialist workers’ party to bring power back to the people.

Issued by Irvin Jim, Numsa General Secretary,NUMSA, 24 March 2016