NUM urges Amcu to join talks

2012-09-04 11:23

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has urged the newly formed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to join Lonmin peace talks.

“The NUM is committed to finding a peaceful solution,” NUM spokesperson Frans Baleni told reporters in Joburg today.

He praised Solidarity and Uasa for their role in talks aimed at resolving the violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, but noted Amcu’s absence.

“Amcu argues they were sidelined, while they stormed out of peace talks,” he said.

“They should return to the talks and find a peaceful solution. They have nothing to lose except their chains.”

Amcu has partial recognition from Lonmin in one of the mine’s four shafts.

Baleni said the wave of violence linked to illegal strikes in the mining sector over the past 18 months had been an attack against the NUM.

It had resulted in the loss of jobs and the loss of lives – those killed were NUM members, he said.

“We are informed by communities near Lonmin that they are terrified, and there is lawlessness in that area,” he said.

Incidents of theft and rape had been reported in the informal settlements close to the mine.

Baleni also said the NUM had been perturbed by the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge 270 miners at Marikana with a common purpose to murder.

“It reminds us of the dark days of apartheid,” he said.

The miners were arrested for public violence after police opened fire on a group of protesting workers, killing 34 of them and wounding 78 near Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine on August 16.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Last week, prosecutors said the men arrested would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.

Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba later said the decision to bring murder charges against them had been based on a “sound legal principle”, which had been part of the legal system for decades.

“The NPA has applied the principle in many cases before. Its application to this specific case would therefore not be unique,” she said.

The murder charges were brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the North West, Johan Smit, SC.

He told reporters that he had evidence that armed workers went to the hilltop in Marikana to attack police.

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