Zuma authorises troop deployment until after Mangaung

2012-09-20 11:09

The SA National Defence Force has officially been deployed domestically from September 14 until next year in Marikana “and other areas of the country where needed”, the Presidency said in a statement today.

The Presidency said in a short statement that the soldiers would be deployed to support the police “in the prevention and combating of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order in the Marikana area, North West province and other areas around the country where needed”.

The statement did not detail where the other areas may be.

The deployment will last from September 14 until January 31 2013.

“The extended period will see the SANDF soldiers supporting the police during the festive season period around the country, as they did last year, 2011,” the statement read.

The statement came as a new dawn broke over Marikana, which has been in the grip of violence in recent weeks as thousands of workers heeded the call to return to work this morning.

Gone was the marching and singing, as snaking queues of workers, mostly dressed in overalls and boots, started forming at the crack of dawn as they waited to board buses ferrying them to work.

Gone too, was the running battles between police and the workers.

People stood in queues, sharing jokes and shaking hands, delighted to be finally heading back to work.

Other joked that after six weeks of no action, their bodies will take time to adjust to the rigours of working underground.

In some cases, workers rushed to waiting buses, playfully pushing and jostling in a bid to catch the best seats.

This was in contrast to the workers’ call of “asiyi!”, which in the past few days expressed their unwillingness to return to work until their demands were met.

“Kuphelile!” it’s over, shouted one excited worker as he boarded a bus.

Many of the workers expressed relief at being able to return to work.

“It has been a hard time. We have suffered. We have been hungry. But we got something at least. Life will be better,” said Alberto Munhave.

Police monitored proceedings in a number of armoured cars as workers walked from the Nkaneng informal settlement to board buses.

The tension of the past month seemed to have evaporated following a wage agreement signed on Tuesday night between Lonmin and the workers, in talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the South African Council of Churches (SACC).

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