IN MEMORY:  Mineworkers gather on the koppie in Marikana in 2014 to commemorate the massacre that left 34 miners dead. Picture: THE TIMES
IN MEMORY: Mineworkers gather on the koppie in Marikana in 2014 to commemorate the massacre that left 34 miners dead. Picture: THE TIMES

Declaring August 16 a public holiday will help bring closure to those affected by the killings at Marikana in 2012, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Tuesday.

Mathunjwa also called for extensive compensation for the families of those killed and a direct apology by President Jacob Zuma.

"If all those things are done then we will close this chapter, and we will have a government that listens to its electorate," Mathunjwa told thousands of mineworkers and supporters gathered in Marikana to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 2012 police shootings.

He said Amcu had already approached the government to propose moving Workers’ Day from May 1 to August 16.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead when police opened fire on them, more than 70 were wounded, and 250 were arrested at Marikana on August 16, 2012. The police claimed to be trying to disarm and disperse them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including policemen and two security guards, were killed.

In messages to mineworkers and supporters on Tuesday, political leaders appealed for community support and promised to ensure the government was held accountable.

Speaking from a stage erected at the foot of a hill near Lonmin’s Marikana mine, Mathunjwa attacked capitalism, saying it had in some cases captured the state in a toxic way, and denied that Amcu’s wage demands were unaffordable or that it was unreasonable.

The events at Marikana were precipitated largely by workers’ demands for a R12,500 a month minimum wage and rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers and Amcu, which was at the time establishing a foothold in the sector.

On Tuesday, Lonmin CEO Ben Magara thanked employees for their continued commitment to the company, noting the 6,000 jobs the company shed in 2015.

He said Lonmin had met its obligations to the families of those killed in 2012, and appealed for employees’ continued commitment to the

"That’s the only way we can continue to create jobs, to pay for our kids and to continue to pay for ourselves," he said.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane called on the government to speed up the payment of compensation to mineworkers and their families.

"Until Jacob Zuma comes here to apologise to the people and pay back the money, there will be no freedom in SA," he said.

EFF leader Julius Malema promise the crowd the EFF would deliver after winning the Wonderkop ward.

"We are going to make sure the Rustenburg municipality builds roads. We will make sure the youth of this wards get jobs, not because they are EFF but because they are South African and they qualify".

"We are eating this elephant called the ANC piece by piece," he said.

United Front co-ordinator and former Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said work would continue on building a new federation of unions.