Marikana workers ‘never showed anger’

2012-11-22 11:21

Lonmin workers had shown no aggression, no anger and never used strong language when he spoke to them, Anglican church Bishop and chairperson of the SA Council of Churches Jo Seoka has said.

However, he told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry today that Lonmin management’s attitude when he approached them to request that they go to negotiate with the workers in August, was different. He said they were angry and used strong language.

Seoka returned to the witness stand to continue his cross-examination by Lonmin lawyer Advocate Schalk Burger SC.

Last week, Seoka told the commission he visited the striking workers, who were gathered on a koppie at around lunchtime on August 16, after he had read media reports of the ongoing strike.

He said the workers had asked him to go to Lonmin offices and request management to address them. Seoka told the commission Lonmin management had refused, saying they were not going to negotiate with “those criminals”, in reference to the striking workers.

This morning, Burger put it to Seoka that it was reasonable for Lonmin not to have returned to negotiate with the strikers on August 16 as a result of incidents of the killings and burning of property which had happened in the preceding days.

Seoka said he felt Lonmin should have taken the opportunity to negotiate with the strikers when he availed himself after consulting with the strikers, who he said had expressed a willingness to negotiate with the strikers.

Burger said Barnard Mokwena, a Lonmin spokesperson, had told Seoka it was unsafe to go to the strikers because of the killings that had happened previously.

Seoka said Abbey Kgotle, Lonmin executive manager for human capital, had told him they were not going to negotiate with “those criminals”, in reference to the striking workers gathered on a koppie.

Burger said Mokwena had told Seoka the conduct of the strikers was illegal and unlawful and should not be legitimised.

Seoka said he would not forget such statements, denying that these words were ever said to him.

Burger said a protester had addressed the crowd after 1pm that day, saying that if the police came to the koppie, they would finish them off.

The hearing continues.

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