Defence Minister Begs Forgiveness from Miners
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula visited the site of the killings of 34 miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine and apologised and begged forgiveness from the angry workers as hundreds of mourners walked barefoot in a ceremony to bless the site.
Emotions are obviously running high throughout the groups of workers and their supporters with some questioning the minister and the others with her as to why it was not President Zuma addressing them. “If Jacob Zuma doesn’t want to come here, how does he expect to gain our votes?” One man questioned before another one added that without the votes of the miners, the ANC will fall.
Mapisa-Nqakula agreed with their sentiment and said that was exactly why they were there, to apologise on behalf of the government and asking that they may find forgiveness in their hearts. She also added, “The blood that is boiling is not helping anyone here at all.”
Police commissioner Riah Phiyega was criticised earlier this week for absolving her officers of guilt by saying that their firing in self-defence was the right thing to do. Many have questioned whether it was self-defence as no police officer was hurt in the shooting; however, video has surfaced to suggest that at least one of the miners did shoot first.
Managers of Lonmin had ordered workers to report for duty on Tuesday morning or get fired, but the government has stepped in on behalf of the strikers and persuaded the mine managers that none of the striking workers should be fired during this week of mourning.
Tuesday’s visit by an inter-ministerial committee was the first official visit to the scene of the shootings, but certainly was not the first visit by a politician. Former ANC Youth League President, Julius Malema, visited the site on Saturday where he told the striking workers that Zuma did not care about them and that they should file a criminal case of murder against the police for the shootings.
Faith in Muti
Two men who survived the shooting told reporters that a traditional healer had told the strikers that the police bullets would not hurt them if they used traditional medicine. Many of the miners drank a brown muti before the confrontation believing that it would protect them and strengthen them.
“They were then told when they confront the police they must not look back and must just charge forward. If you look back then the muti will not work.”
The two miners both said they were offered the muti at a cost of about R1000, but they turned it down.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane announced that officials had identified 33 of the 34 bodies of shot miners. According to his spokesperson, Harold Maloka, the mine’s database and the governments database had to be checked and families had to be contacted to identify the men, all of which took some time.