During a telephonic discussion this week, one of the police officers in charge of the investigation, who can not be named due to threats made on his life for having arrested some of the perpetrators, confirmed that an investigation by the Mmbatho SIU (Special Investigating Unit) into several incidents of attacks at Floxifor Gold Mine in the North West has been lodged, and is ongoing.
The officer couldn’t divulge much until the outcome of the investigation is concluded, however NOWiNsA has learnt that at the time of going to press, the mine was hit by another attack on Saturday evening (September 25), which saw a contigent of police officers dispatched to the scene. This comes more than a week after the most recent attack, lodged with Amalia SAPS in Schweizer-Renek on Monday, September 20.
Meanwhile, irate Soweto-born businessman Joel Mafenya, who bought the mine back in 2011 describes the incidents as “deliberate ongoing attacks on a black owned business and to an extend on transformation in the gold mining sector”.
One of the first major attacks this year, Mafenya said, took place on June 13 when a group of unidentified heavily armed men stormed one of the mine’s main shafts, destroying critical infrastructure. Two months later, the mine was hit by two more attacks, amounting to tens of million of rands.
Although he reported the three previous matters to the police right away, he said their failure to investigate previous incidents left him extremely distressed, so much so that he lodged a service delivery complaint against the SAPS.
“As we speak, more and more attackers have moved in and our premises and security had been over-powered,” Mafenya said on Sunday, adding: “I understand they are being transported to and and from the mine in specially organised cars … by who, we don’t really know.”
Pinning his hopes on the long arm of the South African law enforcement, he said this is a defining moment for “our police to confront serious crimes of these nature, whose bosses have clearly declared war against the state”.
Mafenya claimed the attacks, which he said coincidentally happen whenever he’s about to go into production, are often camouflaged and attributed to zama zama illegal miners, “when they are clearly highly organised attacks”.
He explained: “In one of the most recent attacks, the perpetrators targeted the mine’s critical infrastructure so that the mine cannot operate, all new and repaired transformers and cables were damaged as per the photos.”
He believes the problem of the mine started when North West politicians discovered that it is owned by a black person. He alleges they even went as far as discouraging the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) and the North West Development Corporation (NWDC) not fund the mine, and as the result he had to self-fund it. He backed this claim by producing previous approval letters of funding, which despite dating back to 201, are yet to be met “just to frustrate me”, he said.
“It can not be a mere coincidence that the attacks are particularly happening to the only black-owned gold mine in the country, and not to any of the white-owned companies,” he said.
“This is a classic case of black on black economic violence. It’s sad that my fellow black brothers in big places are being used to settle scores and push hardworking black entrepreneurs with no political connections like myself out of business.”
He added: “Tell me, how can this be a criminal attack if mining property and infrastructure got destroyed and burned to the ground, without anything being stolen. If the mine was white-owned there would have been soldiers deployed by now. Worst still, how are you destroying a black owned mining company that is creating jobs and bringing hope to one of South Africa’s most impoverished communities?”
Interestingly, the attacks come just months after the North-West Provincial Government including ex-premier Job Mokgoro and his MEC’s visited the mine and committed to support it as a model of black excellence in the province for job creation.
Even more strange and unsettling, Floxifor Gold Mine attack took place a week before the iconic Mmbatho Palms Hotel and Christina Hospital in Mahikeng were destroyed by separate incidents of fire on the same day.