KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni has called on police to “scour every corner in the province and strain every nerve” in finding the assailants involved in the alleged assassination of Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) top manager.

Police earlier confirmed the murder of Nico Swart, RBM general manager for Operational Services in Meerensee, Richards Bay on Monday

SAPS spokesperson Thandeka Mbele said three unknown gunmen who were on foot had shot and killed Swart while he was in his car driving to work. She said the motive for the murder was unknown at this stage and police were investigating.

The KZN Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison said in a statement on Monday that Premier Sihle Zikalala earlier had to intervene to resolve escalating violence in the communities surrounding RBM. The department said that community grievances in the region had stemmed from two possible issues, one being the community wanting the chieftaincy in the KwaMbonambi area to be finalised following the installation of an administrator, as well as allegations regarding the land damage compensation process.

Nkonyeni strongly condemned the shooting and other acts of violence in the area. She urged law enforcement agencies to hunt-down the killers. 

”The provincial government is extremely concerned about the safety of the local KwaMbonambi community, employees at Richards Bay Minerals and the possible loss of investment to the province due to violence and instability in the area. We cannot allow merciless criminals to continue roaming the streets, therefore police working with community safety structures must squeeze the space for criminals who are terrorising the Richards Bay and surrounding communities,” she said.

“Irrespective of the challenges being experienced, we do not believe that these should escalate to violence and harming the employees of RBM to solve issues. We call on the people of KwaZulu-Natal to continue working with us in ensuring that we make investors feel safe and rest assured that this is a province that they can invest in,” Nkonyeni said.

RBM, a subsidiary of the multinational Rio Tinto, is the largest taxpayer in KZN with an annual economic contribution to GDP of more than R6.2 billion per annum.

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Presh JM Reporter

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