Johannesburg – Sibanye-Stillwater [JSE:SGL], which is in the process of buying out Lonmin [JSE:LON], has vowed to do things differently when it finally takes over the company, but won’t take responsibility for the Marikana massacre.
“Marikana was a real disaster, and I think it is extremely difficult for the existing owners to put it behind them and move on,” said Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman.
In 2017, Sibanye-Stillwater offered R5.17bn to buy Lonmin in an all-share offer for the financially stressed London-listed mine, the third-biggest platinum producer in the world.
In 2012, 34 striking workers were shot and killed by police during a lengthy strike over wages, in what was post-apartheid South Africa’s bloodiest labour action.
“We can’t take on the liabilities of Marikana, we need to move forward. It’s a bit like the legacy of apartheid, no one can condone what happened…. we've got to move on and make sure that it never happens again,” he told Fin24.
“It’s like starting on a clean slate.”
Froneman said he expects the Lonmin deal to be concluded before the end of the year, after consideration by local and international competition regulators.
“I think we will always respect what happened there. We will bring new insight, we are here for the long term,” he added.
The deal will create the world’s second-largest platinum producer and bring long-term benefits for both companies, Sibanye-Stillwater said in December.
“We need to make sure that there is proper justice, that there is compensation.”
While Froneman emphasised that justice needs to be done for the Marikana massacre, he also mentioned that Lonmin was not solely liable for damages, as it was the police who shot at the mineworkers.
“We need to ensure that justice is done, where there are damages they must be delivered. The government has a role to play, we all need to do the right thing.”
In March 2017, former minister of police Nathi Nhleko told Parliament that government had received claims totalling R1.1bn for the Marikana tragedy. But no money has been paid out yet.
* SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.