Lonmin employee labelled 'disingenuous'

2014-09-15 20:45
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - A senior Lonmin employee was accused of being disingenuous at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Monday.

"When the occasion was here for you to come and hear about what [the families] were saying about Lonmin, you just did not come. And you want this commission to believe that you've been paining about what happened to them.

"I will submit that is disingenuous and untrue," said Dumisa Ntsebeza, who represents the families of the miners killed in the 2012 strike.

Barnard Mokwena, who was Lonmin's executive president of human capital and external affairs at the time of the strike in 2012, said: "Coming here on that specific day would've helped me. But the situation of the victims is something that I've lived with every single day since 2012.

"I don't like the way these employees are paid. It hurts me; it's not something I, Barnard, would like to endorse. However, there's only so much I can do in this industry and this country."

But, Mokwena said, the strikers' wage demands were unreasonable.

"It would not make sense to upgrade one category of employees and leave the rest," he said.

Ntsebeza said the families had been emotionally devastated by the killing of their loved ones and that daily survival had become a struggle for them.

"[They say] Lonmin has to pay for the death of their families, because if Lonmin had engaged the strikers instead of calling the police, their loved ones would still be alive today," said Ntsebeza.

‘Treating miners like children’

Mokwena said his decision not to engage with the strikers was threefold: He did not want to set a precedent for engaging outside collective bargaining structures.

If he had done so, it would have undermined Lonmin's executive committee's decision to implement a rock drill operator allowance.

Thirdly, to allow Lonmin to adopt a principled stand, not to entertain a wage grievance from employees who had engaged in an unprotected strike.

Ntsebeza accused Mokwena of treating the strikers like children who needed to be punished for bad behaviour.

Mokwena also came under fire because Lonmin had not honoured their undertaking to ensure that the families of the deceased miners did not go hungry.

"Despite undertaking that they'd not go hungry, the families have only received food parcels twice," said Ntsebeza.

Mokwena told the commission he would take the issue up with the Lonmin management.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during unrest near Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Police opened fire on a group of mostly striking mineworkers, killing 34 of them on 16 August 2012. Around 70 people were injured and more than 200 were arrested. Police claimed they were trying to disperse and disarm them.

Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry

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