Sibanye-Stillwater probes claims it failed to resolve impasse five months before miner's killing

20 November 2023 - 19:22
By Phathu Luvhengo
Boinehelo Lefefa, 43, appears in the Westonaria magistrate's court for allegedly stabbing a colleague to death.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Boinehelo Lefefa, 43, appears in the Westonaria magistrate's court for allegedly stabbing a colleague to death.

Sibanye-Stillwater has initiated an internal investigation amid allegations the company failed for months to resolve an impasse which led to the murder of a miner by a co-worker. 

Boinehelo Lefefa, 43, charged with the murder of Alcino Macovo, appeared in the Westonaria magistrate's court on Monday. The case was postponed to Thursday for a formal bail application.  

Lefefa was last week allegedly caught on camera stabbing Macovo to death, disembowelling him and trying to behead him, before taking a selfie with the corpse. 

It emerged last week that the impasse between the two started about five months ago when Macovo allegedly assaulted Lefefa underground. Lefefa was apparently attacked with a metal pipe and sustained injuries to his eye and and head and was hospitalised. 

A representative of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the same shaft said Lefefa was on sick leave for quite some time and when he returned to work he and Macovo were apparently given final warnings. 

Lefefa contested the company's decision and complained to the union that he was not treated fairly during the disciplinary hearing. The NUM representative alleged the company did not take enough steps to resolve the matter amicably and offer reconciliation services.  

Lefefa and Macovo allegedly continued to work in the same shaft while tensions continued to simmer between them.  

“The company has social workers and when there is conflict among employees they are called to facilitate rehabilitation. Despite the case of these two workers being serious, the social worker was not called. The company failed to adequately intervene. The situation ended brutally in a way that nobody anticipated because the company was too latent,” he said.   

The company should have followed proper procedure.

A NUM shop steward previously told TimesLIVE Premium  Lefefa was angry about the outcome of a complaint he laid against the victim with a human resources manager. 

“There was an issue, a fight underground, where the victim is alleged to have assaulted the guy,” he said. 

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said: “The incident is under investigation and we are conducting our own internal investigation, including the allegations made by the unions. I'm unable to comment [further],” he said.