Don’t be sorry over Lonmin shooting – Phiyega

2012-08-20 07:21

Police officers should not be sorry about the shooting near the Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, which left 34 protesting miners dead, police commissioner Riah Phiyega has said, according to a report.

“Safety of the public is not negotiable. Don’t be sorry about what happened,” Phiyega was quoted as saying by the Sowetan newspaper.

She was speaking at policeman Warrant Officer Sello Ronnie Lepaku’s funeral yesterday.

Lepaku was one of the officers who was killed, allegedly by protesting Lonmin miners last Monday.

On Thursday, 34 striking workers were shot dead in a clash with police near the mine in an attempt to disperse them from a hilltop where they had gathered.

“We confront, every day, heartless criminals who are gunning for our lives,” she said.

Phiyega urged police officers to be cautious and vigilant and to wear bullet proof vests, shields and helmets at all times.

“You can put yourselves in danger a thousand times and come out unscathed or just once and not make it. You never know in advance how things will turn out and that is our line of work.”

Meanwhile, Lonmin Platinum mine has called on striking workers to “leave the weapons” and return to their workplace to discuss their demands.

“We still are very optimistic that workers will show up,” said Barnard Mokwena, executive vice-president of human capital and external affairs.

“Only then can we sit down and review the situation and determine the next action,” he told SAfm.

Mokwena said the mine had never refused to talk to workers.

“We have asked workers through their structures to come through to engage management.”

However, the mine’s management would not go to the hilltop at Marikana to speak to miners.

“The mountain is not even on mine property ... come down the mountain, leave the weapons and just come to the workplace,” said Mokwena.

He said the mine had still not received any formal memorandum of demands from striking workers.

“We actually don’t have anything by way of a set of demands.”

Lonmin has issued an ultimatum to the illegally striking workers to return to work today or face possible dismissal.

The ultimatum applied only to illegally striking rock drill operators and assistant rock drill operators who began an unprotected action on August 10, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Lonmin CFO Simon Scott said, “The safety and security of our employees is paramount and nobody will be asked to report for duty if the police consider them in danger of reprisals.”

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