Police are investigating public violence and malicious damage to property, and they have opened a case of culpable homicide against the truck driver, with an additional charge of reckless and negligent driving. He was arrested and will appear in court soon.
Hlathi said police and other law enforcement agencies are monitoring the situation. “We call on the community to respect the rule of law and stop their rampageous behaviour,” he said.
Mpumalanga police commissioner Lt-Gen Mondli Zuma said people amused by a desire to make names for themselves by breaking the law “should be aware of the grave repercussions of a brief fame, which will be followed by a long-term incarceration”.
Nkomati nickel mine general manager David Malunga said he learned of the protest, about 40km from the mine, when some staff arrived at work late.
However, Malunga said he was not aware the protest was linked to the mine closure.
He said employees, host communities, the government and all stakeholders were told in 2019 that the mine had reached the end of its economic life, and a retrenchment process was well advanced.
“Nkomati mine currently employs 500 permanent employees and has approximately 1,000 contractors,” he said. Mining operations would stop by early March.
“This will be followed by the processing operations which will cease towards the end of March,” he said.
- This article has been updated to reflect Malunga’s comments.