Marikana: NUM heads for court

2013-05-19 14:00

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NUM vow to go to court after Lonmin kicks them out.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it will go to court over the decision by Lonmin’s management to stop recognising it as the majority union at its Rustenburg operations.

On Friday, Lonmin wrote to the NUM, ordering it to vacate its offices by the end of May, despite an agreement between the two giving the union until July 3 to reclaim majority status.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka told City Press that Lonmin was bowing to pressure and accused it of a “breach of contract”.

The tussle between the NUM and its fierce rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), over majority status was the major bone of contention that saw Amcu members downing tools in an unprotected strike for two days this week.

“We are considering our options, including approaching the courts and staging a sit-in at Lonmin offices because their decision is tantamount to a breach of contract.

“Lonmin is doing this because they are caught between a rock and a hard place with pressure from Amcu,” Seshoka said.

Amcu’s national treasurer, Jimmy Gama, welcomed Lonmin’s decision but said it was not enough.

“Lonmin mustn’t just mail the letter, they must ensure that they must be corporative in the conclusion of the recognition agreement with Amcu. The longer it takes to sign the agreement, the worse the situation may become. We don’t want to waste time,” he said.

Lonmin confirmed its decision.

Meanwhile, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry has been inundated with requests to place people in witness protection programmes since the murder last weekend of a man who was set to testify.

Several people have told commissioners that they have already received death threats simply because they are rumoured to be witnesses.

But the murder of regional Amcu organiser Mawethu Steven last weekend has not deterred people from testifying, according to commission spokesperson Tshepo Mahlangu.

He would not reveal how many witnesses or potential witnesses had entered protection programmes.

The witness list is a closely guarded secret, and has been since the commission started its investigation into the events leading up to August 16 last year, when 34 miners were shot dead by police. “Naturally, the commission is deeply concerned that we (shouldn’t) have a situation where witnesses are killed endlessly without recourse,” he said.

The directorate of witness protection is located within the national department of justice.

People who approached the commission for protection were removed to safety within 48?hours, Mahlangu said.

They spend two weeks in protection, and then a decision is made by the directorate as to whether they require “permanent” protection.

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