Cold reception for ministerial committee

2012-08-21 21:36

Rustenburg - A ministerial committee was greeted with antagonism on Tuesday when it tried to talk to striking Lonmin mine workers at Marikana, North West.

They told the committee they wanted national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to explain why she had allowed the police to shoot their colleagues.

On Thursday, police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesting mineworkers, killing 34 and wounding 78.

Another 260 were arrested on charges of public violence, and had since been denied bail.

The miners told the committee they objected to a memorial service being held while their arrested colleagues were unable to attend.

"How can you have a memorial service when our people are still in prison?" asked one of their leaders, Xolani Nzuza.

The committee, which consisted of several ministers, was set up to deal with the aftermath of the shooting. It arrived at the mine on Monday to speak to all concerned parties.

Workers started gathering at the Wonderkop settlement, near the mine, early on Tuesday ahead of the committee's visit.

Nzuza told the ministers the workers arrested should be released before a date for a memorial service could be discussed.

When the ministerial team arrived, workers demanded that the police, stationed about 200m away, should move or they would boycott the meeting.

"We do not feel safe near the police. Ask them to leave or you leave," Nzuza said.

The police were ordered to move and a helicopter hovering above was instructed out of the area.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the crowd that the team was there to comfort the bereaved families and to help them with funerals. The crowd interrupted her, telling her not to repeat what they had already heard.

They accused President Jacob Zuma of neglecting them.

"Only [expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius] Malema came to our rescue after the police shot us. President Zuma disowned us", said one of the men, Alfred Bele.

He said Zuma had chosen to meet Lonmin management instead of addressing the workers.

Congress of Traditional Leaders president Phakatile Holomisa appealed to the workers to peacefully resolve their wage dispute with Lonmin.

North West Premier Thandi Modise urged them to allow the memorial service to continue as planned.

"The memorial service is part of healing. Please allow it to take place," she said.

After the ministers left, the workers dispersed. Police kept watch from a distance.

  • kim.buren - 2012-08-21 21:43

    Seems like these miners have alot of demands for who are guilty. Why is it always about demands.

      mattewis.kat - 2012-08-21 21:55

      They only follow the example set for them! If Cyril can pocket R12,500.00 p/m for each miner working for Lonmin, why should they work for R4,000.00 p/m? I certainly won't! Nosiviwe herself also doesn't seem to have to worry about where her next meal will come from! I don't know why the miners blame the police for the shooting incident, though. Did they really think you can just shoot at the cops first, and expect no retaliation?

      stephen.reeves.908 - 2012-08-21 22:07

      @matt. Where on earth have you pulled these numbers from? Implying Cyril is earning R37 500 000.00 Per month? And the unions have denied ANY workers on the mine earn less then R10 000.00 per month.

      gavin.simpson.0 - 2012-08-21 22:29

      @mattewis... I guess you misses the reports about their actual wages. The package they get is closer to 12000 p/m.

      denis.gomo - 2012-08-22 08:06

      Cyril tried buying an R18mill buffalo. More than the combined monthly salaries of the 4000 miners at a salary of R4000 p/m. But that does not justify a violent strike and killings and weapon carrying.

  • AlexWallerSA - 2012-08-21 21:44

    Step 1: get members out of prison Step 2: commence operation public statement of intentions through violent means.

  • reinier.meyer - 2012-08-21 21:46

    children !!!

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-08-21 21:47

    I agree with them. Delay the memorial service until the imprisoned are freed. Would the year 2022 suit them?

  • Ratsaka Eugene - 2012-08-21 22:16

    what a tragedy!!

      wesleywt - 2012-08-22 15:52

      You words are wasted on the N24 commenter. They are celebrating this.

  • frits.haas - 2012-08-21 22:24

    ..whats worse for me is that there was no mention to anyone about the 4000 white farmer murders...while the entire world hears about a handfull of striking miners...

  • Phil.Kleynhans - 2012-08-21 23:07

    Find the instigator. The root of starting this strike. I think there could be a few surprises

  • Chaapo - 2012-08-22 01:18

    Malema came to your rescue- poor souls! What was he rescuing after the deed was done? If he were one of them truly, where was he when it started? He only came as a vulture for the pickings; to use their pain as ammunition in his fight with Zuma. This was not out of concern for them, but an opportunistic move to take advantage of a tragedy to advance his agenda. When are these people ever going to open their eyes to the realities around them?

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