Lonmin mineworkers gather as Malema lays murder charges
MINERS at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine on Tuesday converged near the site of last week’s crackdown by police that left scores of their colleagues dead, after the interministerial committee of enquiry into the matter assured them there would be no more ultimatums or threats of dismissal issued by the company during the week of mourning declared by President Jacob Zuma.
The gathering, attended by senior government officials, was held with the aim of giving a first-hand account of the events leading up to the moment the police, armed with assault rifles, allegedly opened fire on striking workers.
A total of 34 people were killed and 78 injured in the standoff between police officers and miners who refused to leave a hilltop at Wonderkop, near Lonmin’s Western Platinum mining operation.
Thandi Modise, North West premier, said: "We are not happy with what has happened. Not long ago it was Impala, now it’s Lonmin ... we are saddened because when workers are hurt, we are hurt."
Ms Modise pleaded with miners to negotiate peacefully and to avoid violence. She added that once the initial work of the interministerial commission of enquiry was done, the North West would also present evidence if needed.
Earlier, former African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema, along with leaders among the miners, laid murder charges against the South African Police Service on behalf of the miners.
Mr Malema, who was accompanied by suspended youth league members Floyd Shivambu and Sandiso Magaqa, said he did not have full confidence in the commission of enquiry that Mr Zuma had convened. "We do not know the terms of reference," he said.
He added that it was important to speak to those who had been directly affected, and slammed the government, saying the lives of the miners were regarded as "cheap" and "not deserving of attention".
Mr Malema said Mr Zuma’s instruction for the use of maximum force in strike matters was "irresponsible".
When asked about his involvement with the miners, he denied it had anything to do with his political fallout with Mr Zuma, but said it had "everything to do with the senseless act by government".
A memorial service for the 34 miners who died last in the shootout will take place on Thursday.
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