Workers who break strike on Marikana’s ‘hit list’

2014-05-18 15:00

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A list detailing the names of miners who have agreed to return to work and break the strike on the platinum belt is allegedly being used as a hit list.

The list of names, allegedly compiled by employees of mining house Lonmin – which has found its way into the hands of both the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – features the details of three of the four people who were brutally murdered in the township of Bapong, near Marikana, in the past week.

City Press has seen part of the list, which contains the names of the miners who have returned to work, their personnel numbers and the name of the union to which they belong.

The names of three of the murdered men, two of which have not been released, were on the list.

The only name that was not on the list was that of Lulu Maramba (38). She and one of the miners, Lucky Nkaelang (47), were found dead at their house on Sunday at about 5pm.

Both had stab wounds and were allegedly strangled.

Five sources within the SA Police Service, Amcu and the NUM told City Press the list bearing the names of miners who have broken the strike was now being used as a hit list.

This, they said, is being done with the aim of terrorising striking miners and sending a message to those considering breaking ranks and returning to work.

The sources have confirmed the existence of roving gangs of “foot soldiers” who have been given the names of those who have accepted Lonmin’s offer to return to work as the four-month-long strike drags on.

Lonmin has been trying to reach out to the striking workers through an SMS campaign, which the mining company now says it will stop temporarily.

At an Amcu meeting in Marikana on Wednesday, union president Joseph Mathunjwa said: “I told the employers these SMSes would do a lot more harm than anything else.

“They were warned, but they still went ahead, thinking we would be brought back to work with simple SMSes.”

A NUM insider said the “gangs” were given specific orders to murder miners who broke ranks with their striking ­colleagues. City Press has learnt at least one of the murdered men had applied to rejoin the NUM shortly before he was ­attacked.

Another man – who survived a ­vicious attack on Monday in which his head and face were cut open with an axe – told City Press he was still on the NUM waiting list to rejoin the union. His name was also on the hit list.

An Amcu member speaking on condition of anonymity said the only way such information could be found was if Lonmin’s human resources department had allowed it to get into union hands.

“Honestly, I haven’t seen it, but I know that there are people who are close to the human resources people on the mine. Information like this would not be difficult to get if you know the right people,” he said.

Mathunjwa said he knows nothing about this list, nor of the workers who have decided to return to work.

“All I know is we are in a strike and we are conducting it peacefully. None of the members at the head ­office know of any leaks in Lonmin. The last we checked, Lonmin was sending SMSes to our members. That’s all the

information we have,” he said.

Mathunjwa said the deaths and attacks were matters that the police should deal with.

He made it clear he could not be held responsible for violence in the community outside the picketing areas.

The NUM’s regional secretary in Rustenburg, Sydwell Dokolwana, said that getting the information to compile such a list would not be easy – but if one knew “the right people”, it wasn’t impossible.

“We know from some of our people inside Amcu that the leadership gave clear instructions that people should report their neighbours if they were ­going to work. We also know that some members of the [Amcu] leadership have been clocking in at work to check who was working,” Dokolwana said.

Happy Nkhoma, spokesperson for Lonmin, said the company could not confirm that any information could have come from their offices.

But he said Lonmin has thousands of employees who are on the bargaining council and could be sympathetic to either Amcu or the NUM.

“We are indeed managing a database of the responses we have received from employees. This database is being managed and accessed by a small and select number of our most trusted managers.

“The trade unions do not have any access whatsoever to this database and information,” Nkhoma said.

He added that all employees live in the same communities and the probability is always high that those striking will know which colleagues are reporting for duty or who intends to do so.

“In cases where there are credible and substantiated allegations of possible breaches of our confidentiality requirements, the company will conduct a thorough investigation.”

In the past two weeks, police visibility in Marikana has increased tenfold, yet residents of surrounding areas, ­including Bapong, have been attacked.

A senior North West provincial ­police officer confirmed the presence of “gangs” who are coordinating ­attacks on nonstriking miners.

“They seem to have a strategy. Marikana has been quiet but now the ­attacks are moving to other places, it’s not a coincidence,” he said.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said at a press briefing on Thursday that ­police had the names of some of those involved in the attacks, but no arrests have yet been made.

Although armoured police vehicles accompany them to work and back each day, neither the police nor Lonmin can guarantee the miners’ safety when they return home.

An Amcu member said those returning to work could expect no protection. “What should we do with amagundwana [rats]? Whether they are taken care of using a list or not, they can’t be working when we are on strike. It’s not right and many are still to leave this earth.”

‘They called me a rat’

A man who survived an axe attack outside Tornado informal settlement near the Lonmin Saffy shaft told City Press from his bed in the intensive care unit of a local private hospital that he was accosted by a group of six men while on his way to work on Monday morning. He did not know who they were.

“I was waiting for my friend who has a car to pick me up, and they came out of nowhere. They called me igundwana [a rat]. They asked me how could I be going to work while everyone else was still on strike and starving.

“I have two children and a wife. What are they supposed to eat if I am not working? I had to go back to work to make money,” he said.

The married father of two from KwaZulu-Natal – who asked not to be named because he fears the gang may finally kill him – now has a gaping hole in his head.

His brain, from which blood is being drained, can be seen throbbing beneath the wound dressing. His upper lip, which was gashed open to his nose, is stitched closed.

Nurses at the hospital say there is a chance he will not survive. – Athandiwe Saba

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