Marikana workers 'did not want NUM'

2013-01-25 16:01
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Striking mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana mine did not want to talk to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Farlam commission heard on Friday.

NUM health and safety national secretary Erick Gcilitshana said it was "because the message was clear the strikers did not want to talk to NUM" that it did not suggest a wage increase outside the national bargaining processes, before the shooting at the North West mine in August.

He had been asked why the union had not made the suggestion if it were true that an earlier settlement would have saved lives.

Asked on Thursday if this would have been the case, Gcilitshana had replied: "I think so. I can't be confident in saying that."

Deaths

Gcilitshana was testifying before the commission following the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at the North West mine last year.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine on 16 August.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.

Gcilitshana is the first witness called by the NUM. He was the chief negotiator during the Lonmin mineworkers' strike at Marikana in August. He is also a Lonmin employee.

Listening to radio report

On Friday, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) lawyer Heidi Barnes asked him about his movements on 16 August, the day of the shooting.

He said he had a briefing with Lonmin security in the morning and spent the rest of the day waiting for feedback from Solidarity members at the union's offices at the mine.

Barnes put it to him that while 3 500 mostly NUM members were on a hilltop facing heavily armed police, he was sitting in an office or listening to reports of the shooting on his car radio.

"Yes, that's correct," he answered.

No final decision on demarcation - board

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  num  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry
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