Union boss: I wanted to die with them

2012-08-17 16:29

Johannesburg - The president of Amcu wanted to go back and die with his dead colleagues when he saw them fall from police fire at Lonmin's Marikana mine, he said on Friday.

"I told them to leave...I pleaded, I pleaded," Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as he recounted the events that led to the deaths of over 30 protesters in a clash with police on a hill near the mine on Thursday.

In tears

He said workers had earlier refused to leave, vowing to stay on the hill even if they were killed.

"We got in our cars and left... After a few minutes the phone rang [about the shooting].

"I wanted to turn back and go and die with my comrades," said Mathunjwa.

Using a handkerchief to wipe his eyes, he said Amcu leaders went to the hilltop, where the protesters had gathered, before the shooting without a police or security escort, or any supervision.

"I pleaded with them: 'The writing is on the wall, they are going to kill you'," he said.

Police opened fire on the protesters, many of whom were armed, on Thursday afternoon while trying to disperse them.

Workers refused to leave

The police ministry said 34 people were believed to have been killed. The National Union of Mineworkers said 36 people had died.

Another 10 people - including two police officers, two security guards and three NUM shop stewards - have been killed in separate incidents since the start of an illegal strike last Friday.

Mathunjwa said he pleaded with the workers twice to leave the hilltop, near the mine where workers had gathered, but they refused.

"They wanted R12 500 [a month]," he said.

  • adrien.mcguire - 2012-08-17 16:41

    Brave words from someone who left the scene, and his 'comrades' to face the bullets !

      mofstok - 2012-08-17 17:07

      Yup. His bark is pretty loud, he must have a big mouth too. Leave his comrades to bleed-out in the dust after inciting them into suicide-by-cop, what a scumbag.

      kevin.pitzer - 2012-08-17 18:03

      I agree totally ...Wonder if he was formulating his pathetic act as he stared out the back window of the escape car realising his interference and instigating had crossed the line probably landing him in more than just hot soup !

  • Pagel - 2012-08-17 16:59

    Yeah Yeah - sure you wanted to.

  • Lesetja Sema - 2012-08-17 16:59

    very sad.

  • chris.summers.3954 - 2012-08-17 17:02

    What a coincidence, we wanted you to die with them as well!

  • Desilusionada - 2012-08-17 17:06

    Sow the wind and reap the storm. Welcome to the realities of opening boxes belonging to Pandora.....

  • siphiwo.spitch - 2012-08-17 17:06

    Joseph Mathunjwa you are talking crap!

      mofstok - 2012-08-17 17:12

      It's the only talent he has, poor fellow.

  • Michael - 2012-08-17 17:10

    Bloody liar!

  • manu.dibango.96 - 2012-08-17 17:11

    This whole thing defies understanding. So uneccessary. How can you have a shoot out in the middle of the bush? If this was in the city and people were running around pangas I can understand, but in the bush? The whole situation is pathetic.

  • vivian.harris.73 - 2012-08-17 17:16

    Wonder where he was when they killed 10 people...

  • dmarinheiro - 2012-08-17 17:17

    Fine line we tread between civil lawlesness and police brutality... But if anyone had to die, I would have chosen this Joseph Mathunjwa first!

      manu.dibango.96 - 2012-08-17 17:25

      Can you imagine if this had happened in the US or a European country? There would be an uproar. Remember the riots in the UK last year? Protestors were fighting pitched battles with the police. Was anybody executed? Civil lawlessness should not lead to a massacre.

  • Jason - 2012-08-17 17:40

    Don't f#$k with the police ! shoot then asked !! too sad of life boils down no respected

  • jus.manning - 2012-08-17 17:46

    Too late for that idiot! 36 other peopled died for you and your irresponsible banter about wages, inciting the behavior that took place. If you wanted it so bad, why werent you with them when it all went down. COWARD!

  • joe.peters.56 - 2012-08-17 17:53

    Vote DA

  • Elizabeth Strydom-van Niekerk - 2012-08-17 18:44

    An upstart union ... need any more be said ..? just get lots and lots of fools to pay you a monthly fee... promise them the stars and the moon and you have disaster ...

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