Lonmin miners vow to keep striking as death toll rises
STRIKING miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine near Rustenburg vowed on Tuesday to stay at the top of a hill near the mine until their pay was increased to R12,500 a month.
Shares in the world’s third-largest platinum miner were down for a fourth consecutive day, dropping as low as R89,56, as the company grappled with a possible turf war between two rival unions. The violence has left at least 10 people dead, including two police officers and two security guards, after another death was reported late on Tuesday.
Under pressure from escalating costs and lower platinum prices, the company’s shares have dropped more than 25% this year.
On Tuesday, the miners claimed they were being paid R4,000 per month, with those living outside the mine hostel earning R5,000 a month.
"We want money. We have kids to take care of," said one worker, Alfred Makhaya, from the Eastern Cape.
He said he had been working for Lonmin for more than eight years and earned R4,000 a month until he left the hostel to rent a room and get an extra R1,000. "This money is too little. I am working hard and I’m being paid so little."
Earlier, about 500 men had gathered on top of the hill, armed with knobkerries and iron rods. Local residents said an inyanga (herbalist) or sangoma (traditional healer) would perform a ritual on the mountaintop and sprinkle the men with traditional medicine to "make them brave".
The violence has been linked to factional battles between members of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which both operate at the mine.
Lonmin has 40,000 employees working at Marikana, and relations between Amcu and the NUM have grown tense since the former claimed to have obtained majority support at the Karee mining operation last year. Attempts by the union to expand to nearby Westerns platinum mine have been cited as the source of the conflicts.
Despite calls from the NUM on Monday that the army be deployed, both police and the South African National Defence Force said there was no need for the army to get involved at this stage.
With Trevor Neethling, Ron Derby and Sapa
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