Tension at Lonmin Continues as Workers Vow to Defy Demands
In a shootout between police and striking miners last week, 34 people were killed and 78 were wounded near Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg. Despite this, workers continue to vow to defy demands by the company to return to work.
While many workers are heeding the demands of Lonmin management and are returning to work on Monday, some say they would rather die than work for the pittance they believe they are receiving. Most of those already killed are believed to have been involved in illegal industrial action at the mine after rock drillers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) demanded that their monthly salary be increased from R4000 to R12 500.
Now though, those workers returning to work are afraid. One man, Thapelo Mohutsiwa, a surface miner at Lonmin’s number four shaft told the Mail & Guardian that he wasn’t striking because it was not his department and he has a family to feed so he must work, but he is scared.
Hundreds of South African Police Service members remain on the scene and are monitoring the situation to prevent another devastating incident.
A Week of Mourning for a Nation in Shock and Pain
The scene of the shooting which made headlines around the world last week still looks like a bloody battlefield with pieces of clothing littering the ground and yellow paint outlines of bodies all over the area. The police have completed their own initial forensic investigation; however that will not be enough for the nation.
President Zuma announced on Sunday that he appointed an inter-ministerial committee that will investigate just what happened last week. Led by the Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, this committee includes Police Minister Nathi mthethwa, Shabangu, North West Premier Thandi Modise, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Zuma also added that there would be a period of mourning this week with August 23 declared as a day for memorial services to be held across South Africa.
“The nation is in shock and in pain. We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life and the right to life as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic. We must avoid finger-pointing and recrimination. We must unite against violence from whatever quarter. We must reaffirm our belief in peace, stability and order and in building a caring society free of crime and violence.”