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Platinum chief dies amid protests and missing millions in royalties

2017-05-16 17:53

It is believed that the Bapo ba Mogale youth who have been demanding jobs from Lonmin may have decided to halt their protest, which forced the platinum producer to close two operations last week, following the death of the paramount chief in the area.

Kgosi of Bapo ba Mogale for three decades, Bob Edward Mogale, died after being ill for about a month.

The family’s spokesperson, Vladimir Mogale, said his uncle took his last breath at the royal palace outside Majakaneng village on Monday evening.

“He had been sick for a month, been in and out of hospital and when he got discharged recently we had hoped for him to recuperate at home but unfortunately he left us on Monday,” he said.

While he frequented hospital, struggling with his health, his community was faced with a number of unresolved and fresh issues to deal with.

In a recent incident, at least two buses partly owned by the Bapo ba Mogale investment arm were torched during the violence protest in which the youth group was demanding 1000 full-time jobs from Lonmin, the world’s third largest platinum producer, which is mining their land.

They were also demanding 500 cadet placements from Lonmin but the company said this was not realistic.

The company said it had lost about 5830 platinum ounces in production, amounting to about R56 million, since the protest began on May 2.

Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara wrote in a newspaper announcement today: “If we agree with protesters’ demands we will risk the jobs of all employees at Lonmin and the future of the whole company.

We can’t create 1000 jobs and 500 cadet positions ... and we simply cannot hand over a shaft to be managed by community members.”

This was just one of the community’s problems.

The office of the Public Protector had promised to return with a report to be handed over to the chief.

The report was expected to shed light on what happened to the missing millions of rands in mining royalties that were paid in the name of Bapo.

The money was deposited into a government controlled account known as the “D-Account”, which had not been audited for about 19 years despite withdrawals for the beneficiary communities.

The former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, previously told the community that their account had R617 million in 1994 and this had dropped to just more than R495 000 by 2014.

READ: How Bapo’s R616m was blown

 It later emerged that Mogale was living in a royal palace, a palatial mansion with costs that had ballooned from the initial R20-million budget to a whopping R80 million.

It was reported that about R68 million was paid to consultants alone and R2.8 million was spent on decor.

READ: Is this worth R80m?

Meanwhile, Vladimir said the tribal administration and provincial government officials were still engaging ahead of the announcement of the funeral arrangements for Kgosi Mogale.

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October 15 2017