Miner: Lonmin should have acted sooner

2013-03-12 18:36
Marikana victims' relatives (Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

Marikana victims' relatives (Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

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Rustenburg - Lonmin Platinum Mine could have prevented the 16 August Marikana shooting had it acted sooner, a miner told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

"If your child is hungry and wants food, you take cognisance that the child is hungry. You don't put the dogs on the child for being hungry," miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana said in Rustenburg, through an interpreter.

He told the commission that if Lonmin had told striking mineworkers how much it could afford to pay them, the police would not have shot at strikers on 16 August last year.

Commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, asked for clarity on what Magidiwana meant when he said the employer should have acted sooner.

He replied that action should have been taken before workers decided to go to the hill near Lonmin's Marikana mine on 11 August.

Magidiwana was being cross-examined by Terry Motau SC, for Lonmin.

He said Lonmin did not mention that it could not pay mineworkers the R12 500 monthly wage they were demanding.

Motau told the commission Lonmin management had already responded to the demand by workers, despite Magidiwana claiming he had heard nothing.

The miner said Lonmin should have talked to strikers.

Motau responded: "Lonmin knew that the 3000 strikers were armed with dangerous weapons... Is it not unreasonable to expect Lonmin to go and negotiate on the koppie [hill] under those conditions?"

Magidiwana said Lonmin management should have negotiated with workers from the beginning of their industrial action.

They had gone on strike demanding R12 500 a month, but actually wanted "no less than R10 000 after deductions".

"I would have been happy to receive R20 000, but the strike was, according to me, to receive something in excess of R10 000."

The initial strike

Asked about the difference in the salaries of rock drill operators, who initially went on strike, and other mineworkers who later joined, Magidiwana said they earned the same amounts.

He said underground work was difficult and warranted the increase.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

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

On Tuesday morning, Karel Tip SC, for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), completed his cross-examination of Magidiwana.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  num  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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