Security official killed at North West gold mine, industry demands action

A Harmony Gold operation came under an armed attack on December 20 2019. File image
A Harmony Gold operation came under an armed attack on December 20 2019. File image
Image: Gallo Images/ iStockphoto

SA's mining industry is calling for a special police unit to help it curb violent attacks by criminals, the latest of which led to the death of a security official on Friday.

Harmony Gold confirmed that a reaction unit supervisor employed by a contracted security company was fatally wounded in an armed attack on the plant at its Kalgold mining operation in the North West in the early hours of the morning.

“Due to the additional security measures, no gold was stolen,” the company said.

Harmony added, “As the incident is now the subject of an investigation by the SA Police Service, no further information will be disclosed by the company at this time.”

The Minerals Council SA called for urgent intervention to end what it views as violent organised crime afflicting the sector.

It appealed to the ministers of police and mineral resources and energy to implement actions to “to prevent and investigate the violent assaults by heavily armed intruders on mining company targets, especially smelt houses”.

In the past year alone, the gold industry has suffered nine significant attacks that have seen employees and security personnel held hostage and assaulted. Two people have been murdered in two attacks, the most recent being the attack at Harmony Gold’s Kalgold plant, said the council.

Roger Baxter, CEO of the Minerals Council, said the lack of resources and capacity within the SA Police Service to prevent “these violent assaults, which are largely driven by organised crime”, is a major threat to the industry and places the lives of innocent people at risk.

“Essentially, the industry is under siege. These crimes are hurting SA’s investment and economic prospects and urgent action is required.”

Baxter said the industry wanted a special policing unit to be established to deal with the attacks. The council said a dedicated unit that was previously in place was disbanded some years ago.