Marikana - An ultimatum issued by platinum giant Lonmin [JSE:LON] to
workers to end a wildcat strike runs out Monday after the London-listed company
ordered employees back to work at a South African mine where police killed 34
Miners however remained defiant after the worst episode of
police violence since the apartheid era, which President Jacob Zuma said will
be officially mourned for seven days.
Lonmin said the call to staff was "a last opportunity
to return to work" at its shut-down Marikana mine where union rivalry
escalated into a police crackdown and more bloodshed on Thursday after 10
people died just days earlier.
"Employees could therefore be dismissed if they fail to
heed the final ultimatum," warned the world's number three platinum
But miners who first downed tools at the Marikana mine on
August 10 pledged to press on with their wage demands, and called the order to
return to work "an insult" to colleagues who were gunned down by
"Expecting us to go back is like an insult. Many of our
friends and colleagues are dead, then they expect us to resume work.
Never," said worker Zachariah Mbewu.
"Some are in prison and hospitals. Tomorrow (Monday) we
are going back to the mountain (protest site), not underground, unless
management gives us what we want."
Lonmin's Monday deadline coincides with the start of a
week-long national mourning announced Sunday by Zuma.
Flags will be lowered to half mast and an official day for
nationwide memorial services held on Thursday.
The violence at the mine stems from a conflict between the
powerful National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart Association of
Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which is calling for a tripling of
Thursday's crackdown left 34 dead, 78 wounded and 259
detained, and boosted the death toll to 44 after the 10 earlier deaths which
included two police officers.
Workers say they are waiting to hear from mine bosses, whose ultimatum Sunday was an extension of a previous order to return.
Police have claimed self-defence and several probes have
been launched, including Zuma announcing a judicial commission of inquiry.
A team of his ministers will also head to Marikana on Monday to "coordinate and lead all support" to grieving families.
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