The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, has called on the community of Richards Bay to safeguard and protect Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) following the recent murder of one of the firm’s senior executives.
Mantashe met with RBM management on Thursday following the cold-blooded murder of one of the company’s most senior managers, Nico Swart, last week.
Mantashe condemned the recent crime and the murder that has impacted mining operations in Richards Bay.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala chaired the high-level meeting with RBM management, which included Rio Tinto managing director Stephane Leblanc, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay and uMhlathuze Municipality Mayor Mduduzi Mhlongo.
“Richards Bay Minerals is a very important company, not only for KwaZulu-Natal but in the context of mining nationally.
A criminal activity is not a mining activity once you commit a crime you then create a crime scene, and the police must take over,” Mantashe said.
Richards Bay Minerals is an important stakeholder in KZN in regard to investments and its continued existence is dependent on what we do to preserve Richards Bay as a prime investment area. People in Richards Bay must protect RBM as their asset.
The safety and security issues affecting Richards Bay are not only a threat to the province but the country,” Mantashe said.
Mantashe commended the KZN government for its ongoing efforts to create peace and stability in the area.
The delegation also received news that law enforcement agencies had prioritised the criminal and murder cases in the region.
The case dockets have been consolidated and are with a team of dedicated investigators and combat teams. The investigations are at an advanced stage and police will work closely with RBM to get to the root cause of the criminal elements in the area.
Zikalala assured stakeholders that government teams would remain in the area to facilitate stability and attend to their concerns. This will include working closely with RBM to facilitate its expansion prospects.
Rio Tinto Managing Director Stephane Leblanc thanked the government for its support and interventions to address the complex issues affecting the company’s operations.
“The safety and security of our employees is paramount. We have been working hard to reduce the risk to our employees to ensure that they work safely.
We would like to closely work with you (government) to find a way to ensure that those that are behind these murders are brought to book,” Leblanch said.