The High Court in Polokwane in Limpopo is expected to sentence three men convicted of the murder of six people after they petrol-bombed a bus transporting Modikwa platinum mine workers.

Another 47 people were wounded in the attack in April 2018.

One of the convict’s defence informed the court that they intended to call witnesses in mitigation of the sentence.

The state on the other hand indicated that it would call some survivors to testify in aggravation of sentence.

When handing down the judgment on Monday, Acting Judge Podu Mdhludi stated that the trio alongside their co-accused Kgaukgelo Moime who is already serving time for the crime, intended to kill the workers as they only set the bus on fire after all the employees had climbed in.

Police forensics in April of 2018 identified the six mineworkers as Moniccah Mabilo (57) from Ga Mahlokwane village, Johannes Malepe (56),  Ziphora Makuwa (48) – both from Driekop, Solomon Komana (37), Simon Mahlokwane (42) – both from Ga Mahlokwane village and 58-year-old Pheta Ranku from Lesotho.

Police said assailants boarded the work bus and set off the petrol bomb before fleeing the scene.

The workers were en route to work the night shift.

Community raises concerns about new mine in Limpopo:

Modikwa Platinum Mine insists it has the mining rights

Modikwa Platinum Mine, owned by mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, also says it has mining rights on the land in Maandagshoek that is being used by Nkwe Platinum.

Modikwa Platinum did not want to be recorded on the matter, but they confirmed that they have taken the matter to court.

Nkwe Platinum is also accused by residents at Leolo village, who allege that the company has divided the local Nkosi royal house.

Jacob Nkosi, who is a member of the royal house, says the company has entered into a deal with some members of the royal family.

“We are complaining about the operations that are going to happen by Nkwe Platinum here at Ga Sekhukhune, we are the affected areas to that mine. We want them to come on the table and we want some agreement in black and white not verbally. Because now they bribe our chiefs, they do some celebrations without resolutions from the community and we want them to comply with all the clauses from the mining charter and social labour plan. So, we are sick and tired of the bribes that are given to the Mahosi of Ga Sekhukhune.”

Job opportunities

Residents at Leolo say they want mining companies to work on their land as it will provide job opportunities, but they want all disputes to be resolved before more operations commence.

“They are running matters about the mine, but the community is not fully briefed about it. We want the mine as it will create jobs. They will train us to have some skills. We welcome the mine because we are poor and not working and it will help us. All we want is for them to come at clear and tell us all the details about the mine, how is the mine going to help and where exactly are they going to set it up,” says one resident.

The case between Modikwa Platinum and Nkwe Platinum will be heard at the Polokwane High court on 29 June.