Three Union Leaders Shot Dead in South Africa

  August 8, 2014

Three Union Leaders Shot Dead in South Africa

The young NUMSA shop stewards were targeted by "reactionary forces" after a 4 week strike, says the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
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Three Union Leaders Shot Dead in South AfricaJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Here at The Real News we've reported on the month-long strike that was conducted by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, or NUMSA. With 220,000 [striking] members, they have the largest labor organization in South Africa, which is why last month it was a major, major victory for them to come to a three-year agreement for a wage increase. But now the union is mourning, mourning the deaths of three of its shop stewards, who the union claims were shot and killed in a targeted attack.

Real News Executive Producer Sharmini Peries is in South Africa, and she interviewed the national treasurer of NUMSA. Take a look at what he had to say about the attacks.


MPHUMZI MAQUNGO, NATIONAL TREASURER FOR NUMSA: Yesterday in one of our regions, called KwaZulu-Natal, we convened a NUMSA meeting where all shop stewards met together, discussing the issues of the organization, and also in preparation for our big meeting called International Symposium.

On the way back home, the leadership in a local called Isithebe, they were gunned down last night. Three of them were killed. One is in hospital in an ICU in critical condition. And these are very crucial and strong, militant comrades by the name of Njabulo Ndebele, Sibonelo Ntuli, and Ntobeko Maphumulo. These are the comrades who were holding higher position in KwaZulu-Natal local. And also these are the youth brigade Mbuyiselo Ngwenda Brigade, who's supposed to be with us today in this opening of this big meeting called International Symposium, convened by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: What does this mean for NUMSA, their loss?

MAQUNGO: It is indeed a big loss to us as a national union, to the family, and to the society at large, because they were also the representing the community. And I do believe that this incident that took place, it is not a neutral issue. It is purely because it is orchestrated by the perpetrators who wants to see NUMSA continue to go down. They want to instill fear. They are terrorizing our members. And our members are not allowed to participate in the structures of the organization freely. They want to make sure that people, they accept some of the position that as workers in this country we don't agree with.

PERIES: And they were just returning from a very critical meeting in Durban, where Durbin is actually very contested politically at the moment. Can you elaborate on that?

MAQUNGO: Yes. You will note that KwaZulu-Natal [could happen?]. It is very political in the country. There used to be violence in the country. People used to die. That's why we are saying that we want to humbly request our members, families, that no one must take revenge. We must stay calm and make sure that we allow the police to take the route, to take its course.

But we do believe that this is sort of violence is one of the perpetrators that we think that they wants to destabilize the organization in South Africa called NUMSA.


DESVARIEUX: That was the national treasurer of NUMSA being interviewed by our executive producer, Sharmini Peries.

We'll continue to have updates as the story develops. But in the meantime, thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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