Marikana miners mass on hilltop again

2012-09-05 17:09
Lonmin. Picture: AP

Lonmin. Picture: AP

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Rustenburg - Protesting miners from Lonmin's Marikana mine, in North West, started gathering on the Wonderkop hill again on Wednesday afternoon, following their march to the company's mine in Karee.

Earlier, they threatened to kill Lonmin management unless it stopped operations at the platinum mine.

The hilltop is where police opened fire on striking mineworkers on August 16, killing 34 of them and wounding 78, after a week of protests in which 10 people died, among them two policemen and two security guards.

On Wednesday, hundreds of striking workers carrying knobkerries, sticks, and iron rods pushed their way through police barricades as they marched the 5km through Marikana to the Karee mine.

As they marched, they sang: "We died because of [President Jacob] Zuma. [Bantu] Holomisa please come and rescue us."

They also carried placards bearing pictures of their dead colleagues.

As the miners passed the Karee West informal settlement, next to the mine, residents cheered in support.

Men whistled and women ululated as the group passed by. They also shouted: "Viva R12 500. Viva".

At Karee, police took up position about 500m from the entrance gate, and kept a close watch. Two helicopters were circling overhead.

'End up dead'

Five representatives of the workers told manager Jan Thirion that management had Wednesday and Thursday to close the mine's K3 shaft or they would end up dead and the mine would be burnt down.

The shaft is where most of the mine's operations take place.

Thirion, who arrived at the gate escorted by two bodyguards, told the representatives to go back to the negotiating table and sign the peace accord.

"Violence doesn't solve anything. It is not in everyone's interest."

Workers have been on strike for the past three weeks, demanding a monthly salary of R12 500.

On Tuesday, about 200 mineworkers met at the Karee mine's shaft 30, and tried to get their colleagues to stop working. Another march was then planned for Wednesday.

Police in armoured vehicles also kept an eye on the Nkaneng squatter camp at Wonderkop, near the Marikana mine.

Talks between worker representatives, unions, the labour department, and management were expected to resume on Wednesday in Rustenburg.
- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  mahikeng  |  mining  |  mining unrest
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