Business Maverick


Sibanye-Stillwater’s Froneman – Business must be ‘outspoken’ about the high cost of state failures

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Froneman – Business must be ‘outspoken’ about the high cost of state failures
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman.(Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman has come out swinging on the subject of state failure and rampant crime. 

Froneman, in his typically blunt manner, told Daily Maverick in an interview on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the anti-crime initiatives that business is partnering with the government on are just treating the “symptoms” and not the underlying cause.

“We are just treating the symptoms. These problems are all being caused by poor leadership, and the leadership of this country has to change. And we need to be more outspoken about that,” he said.

“What underpins these failures is the ideology of state control. Business and civil society must be a lot more outspoken about this.”

Froneman is very aware of the mounting costs of crime and security in South Africa and the toll that is being extracted from business.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Surface raids increase while Sibanye beats back underground crime

Sibanye’s security costs in 2023 amounted to R1.1-billion, 19% higher than the R928-million the company spent in 2022.

Sibanye had 458 incidents last year in which illegal miners targeted its underground gold operations and there were 158 attacks on its security officers in 2023, up from the 141 recorded in 2022. The company’s security init apprehended 1,239 illegal miners in 2023.

Copper cable theft cost the company over R93-million last year directly from 1,977 incidents. That figure does not include production losses.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Attacks on security personnel at SA mines increase while underground safety improves

This is why Froneman is involved in the business/government partnership to tackle crime and corruption.

“As a work stream, it’s going well but it’s taken six to seven months just to put structure in place and get organised. I don’t think you will see any visible results for a while because the wheels of justice grind very slowly. But I have to be positive about it, we will make a difference.”

One area is the 10111 emergency number and the collapsed call centres which are supposed to handle such calls.

“It’s not our priority but we work with them and have brought in private sector expertise to get that working again. We have an initiative in Midrand to get that up and running. But it’s going to take months,” Froneman said.

One major challenge is the judicial system.

“The real constraint is the judicial system. There are cases that have been heard that just need judges to make a decision. There are cases that have been prepared which need to go through court,” Froneman said.

“If we can unlock the judicial system and maybe set up special courts, that would help.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Theart Korsten says:

    Why is it that a failed government keeps on getting away with NON-DELIVERY!?
    Why must the private sector always bail these guys out? Do we not pay enough tax es? Enough already. Agree we need a new government who wants to work are serving the people who elected them.

    • Timothy G says:

      It is the way of kings to live the high life while the proles slave in the mines and pay taxes. That is the mentality that keeps the power structures as they are in RSA.

  • paul Volker says:

    Froneman has always been so pragmatic, I have no idea why he believes that his intervention in the crime stream has any chance of success with Cele / Massimola heading that competency.

  • Andre Swart says:

    Froneman can influence his labour force to abandon their communist labour unions and to join NEW (to be founded) ‘freemarket’ unions.

    When the labourers abandon their former politically weaponized unions … the ANC will perish!

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    The whole of business needs to stand up and tell the ANC that their model is an abysmal failure. Simultaneously, they, and civil society groups that actually care about DA need to get the message out loud and clear: the ANC and COSATU are the greatest enemies of prosperity and jobs in South Africa.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    One CEO with balls. What about the thousands of other cowards who are complicit in maintaining the ANC in power? Say something!

  • Manny Teixeira says:

    “Where there is mystery there is margin” the leadership bprofit from the dysfunction and lawlessness, like it has been proved at eskom. The NHI will plunge health care into complete chaos but i think the profits have already been decided upon between labour and our corrupt so called leadership, that is why unions are so keen on the NHi. The ideology is anti west despite the fact that they aspire to be like the west. Whatever the west does they will oppose and to the opposite. So if you want the anc to do something tell them to do the opposite. Mind boggling and sickening stupidity, only a tax revolt will have any effect on them.

  • Charles Butcher says:

    The more business speaks up about state failures the more opportunities there will be for TENDERPRENEURS sooooo dhut up and get on with the JOB OF BUSINESS

  • Just Me says:

    The cost to the SA economy of 30 years of ANC mis-rule, mismanagement, corruption and disablement is quite staggering.

    There can never be a modern industrial economy under the ANC.

  • Rae Earl says:

    We need a few more Neil Fronemans and Rob Hersovs in SA. Neither of them has been afraid to state bluntly, that Ramaphosa and his useless ‘collective’ are hopeless failures as leaders in either their respective departments, or the country as a whole.
    The trade unions are directly responsible for the high rate of unemployment with their ceaseless demand for excessive wages and ‘protection’ of their members. What will they do when Big Brother ANC gets displaced by coalition rule? Go on strike and escalate their wreckage of our economy?

    • Denise Smit says:

      So true, now we have doctors and nurse needed in the health sector without jobs, because of the unions unrealistic and unsustainable wage “wins”. They have made the people whom they “fight ” for , the actual losers. Sure the union bosses salaries are much than well looked after

      • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

        This is the one time I agree with you Denise, when unions vote with political parties who confess to lying in parliament this happens.
        The demand for higher wages is the reality of the high cost of living factored by a stagnant if not back sliding economy, higher petrol prices and higher cost of production which in nature makes everything expensive.
        Poor governance is at the forefront of these issues.
        Oil reserves that were used to cushion the ever flactuating oil prices were fraudulently sold.
        It will get worse before it gets better.

  • brett marshall says:

    I am always so impressed when I see prominent business people stand firm and point out faults in government. It has been a major contributing factor to the failure of African states that business has by and large been supportive of corrupt and incompetent governments to the point of syncopated, selfish, and morally bereft praise singing. Business speaking truth to government is as important as journalism doing the same.

  • Rod Shepherd says:

    Some one once said that the people get the governments they deserve. Never been wrong so far. We will go to the polls, and vote. Let’s hope that, that statement can be proven wrong. Let’s get the government we truly deserve this time. Honest caring and truly by the people for the people.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    BEE policies can be blamed for the non- delivery in this sector and all sectors of our economy. The original idea of BEE nearly 30 yrs ago was a good one – it gave advantages to those who couldn’t get on the ladder to becoming Middle Class taxpayers. Sadly it is now being used to feed the corrupted and corruptable. IMHO these policies must go!

  • Gerhard Olivier says:

    South Africa has got frightening crime statistics – 77 murders per day I think, which is more than the casualties in the Gaza war.
    If the judicial system could operate just twice as fast as happens at the moment, it will make a significant improvement in how crime is punished.

  • henrdrik Lodewickus swanepoel says:

    Mr. Froneman’s message is 100% correct.
    The underlined problem, in our country, can only be rectified and resolved by totally removing the current ruling party. Their wrotten branches that are hanging in our old strong trees must be cut off. The fire they will then cause will be washed away cleaning our great land, hence encouraging the planting of new trees.

  • John Kuhl says:

    Its the latest a sense forced on you ….dont make waves you may just upset the community, BEE partner and Gov’nmental institutions…..just slowly plough forward ….slowly …..keeping your head in the sand…..Froneman is one of a kind – we need more like him

  • A Concerned Citizen says:

    Don’t just criticize – put your money where your mouth is and support an alternative to the ANC. Patching private sector band-aids over public sector failures is not a sustainable solution.

  • Johann Crafford says:

    South Africa simply cannot afford 4 more years of ANC corruption and incompetence. As long as the ANC refuses to take responsibility for its numerous failures and stop blaming colonialism and apartheid, nothing will improve. You cannot fix what you don’t acknowledge.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    “One major challenge is the judicial system.”

    Maybe the largest. I am dreaming about the Zondo Commission report becoming a reality and used the way it was supposed to be.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Unfortunately, business has failed South Africa. Organisations such as Businesses Unity South Africa has failed to hold the government accountable to create and sustain an environment where businesses can thrive and create jobs and wealth. Most likely as a number of them are benefiting due to corruption. There has only been a few outspoken business leaders which is too little too late.

  • Peter Dexter says:

    All South Africa’s ills are symptoms of incompetent and dishonest leadership. Section 47 (1) of the SA Constitution sets the competence and integrity standards for entry to the National Assembly. Our cabinet (board of directors) is selected from these MP’s. What are these standards?
    Competence: Nothing! not even literacy.
    Integrity: The bar is set so low even convicted criminals remain on as cabinet ministers.
    Creating an effective barrier to entry into the NA would result in better leadership. It is probable that better qualified people may possess a basic understanding of international economics, and result in direction change to emulate successful economic models, rather than those that have failed almost everywhere. Would a change to Section 47 (1) be easy? Absolutely not as it would cost the current incumbents their place at the trough. But that is what will save SA and is worth fighting for.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz