Anguished union leaders’ tribute to a shop steward killed in xenophobic attacks

Exceptionally gifted shop steward of the metalworkers’ giant union has been killed by prowling mobs- the latest victim of ongoing xenophobic violence against foreign nationals- throughout the country.

Walter Ntombela, a Mozambiquean national who has been a shop steward for the past 10 years, was killed in his shack at the squalid Madelakufa Squatter camp, outside Tembisa township in Germiston.

The witty Ntombela was dearly loved by his work colleagues. He died at the weekend after he was stabbed with pangas by rowdy crowds which raided foreign nationals and set his shack on fire.

His wife and three children, who narrowly escaped death in the inferno of fire, have since been accommodated by police in the community hall, awaiting to be transported to Mozambique.

Numsa Wits Central West regional chairman Motsamai Ponya lamented; “It is unfathomable grief to lose a talented son of the metalworkers’ union and the most creative worker leader.”

The shattered Numsa chairperson described Ntombela as a humorous and lighthearted person, and a guitarist who always joked about being a foreigner and a union activist.

Ntombela, a team leader at a tools manufacturing engineering firm in Jet Park, South East of Johannesburg was regarded as a workers’ struggle champion, although he was an immigrant from Mozambique.

He has been at the forefront of Numsa campaigns in the Ekurhuleni region. He was a chairperson of the shop stewards campaign’s committee.

In paying tribute to Ntombela’s death and many other foreign nationals who died at the hands of the marauding hordes throughout the country, Numsa has launched a national education programme against xenophobia and tribalism at the workplaces.

Shop stewards committee councils across the country have distributed pamphlets against hatred of foreign national over the weekend.

Local office bearers, regional and shop stewards councils are convening factory general meetings from today (Monday 26th June, 2008 until Friday) to explain about the dangers of xenophobia and how it could spill over into attacks against each tribe.

It is anticipated that workers’ meetings will take place in more than 10 000 workplaces this week.

The campaign will continue until the end of June and culminate securing among others, meetings with the national housing department to pursue the conversion of single sex hostels into family units.


For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Cell phone: 082 9407116



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