MARIKANA, South Africa: A South African local union leader was gunned down at Lonmin's Marikana mine Monday, police said, almost a year after officers shot dead 34 strikers on the restive platinum belt.
Amid a deadly inter-union battle for supremacy, police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said a person was shot dead on the mine's Rowland shaft northwest of Johannesburg.
"Officers are still on the scene," he told AFP.
The powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the woman had been one of its leaders at the troubled mine.
"This morning she was fatally shot next to our offices," said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.
"This shop steward woman was an important worker in the union," he added.
A blanket covered the woman's body where she was killed outside her house on the mine's Western Platinum division at 10:00 am (0800 GMT), an AFP journalist witnessed.
Police kept a car with weeping mourners from approaching the cordoned-off scene close to where strikers clashed with authorities a year ago.
Around 50 people gathered while a police vehicle and armoured mine security vans were parked nearby.
The latest murder precedes by just a few days the one-year commemoration of the Marikana bloodbath.
Police opened fire on a crowd of striking miners on August 16, 2012, killing 34 people and wounding 78 in one day which fuelled unrest across the sector.
That day's violence was termed the worst since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Strikers demanded higher pay and better living conditions back then, rejecting their traditional union NUM as being too close to the government and mine management.
A string of assassinations have marked the rivalry between NUM and its militant rival the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
The pair have been battling for dominance at Lonmin, with AMCU muscling out NUM last month as the recognised union.
At least eight union members have been killed in the clashes since last year August, according to an AFP tally.
Another NUM leader was gunned down with 11 bullet wounds in front of the NUM office in July, two months after an AMCU organiser was shot dead in a nearby tavern.
Three witnesses to the inquiry set up to probe last year's killings have also been assassinated.
Most of the dead unionists were NUM members, and the union was outraged that no one had been brought to book for the string of killings.
"Whilst many of the suspects are known to the police, none has been arrested or prosecuted," said Seshoka in a statement Monday.
"There has neither been any beef-up of the security establishment nor has there been any visible policing in the area," he added.
He denounced the mine for failing to protect the remaining union leaders.
"We are disappointed that Lonmin is saying the NUM people must come out of hiding," he told AFP.
The once-powerful worker organisation has gone practically undercover at the mine and its leaders have fled their houses.
At the end of July attackers looted the mine compound homes of two NUM members, demanding that the union leave the mine.