The second anniversary of the shooting at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, near Rustenburg in the North West was commemorated on Saturday at the koppie where miners were shot. Leaders from opposition parties, attending the rally, criticised government for not helping to change the lives of the mining community in Marikana. Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema promised that his party would build houses for the widows of the slain Marikana miners.
“We are going to deliver. We want to teach the ANC government how to take care of poor of the poorer,” he said to applause.
He said the EFF would also pay school fees and buy uniforms for their children. Malema accused the ANC-led government of killing defenceless mineworkers. He said the widows and families have had to experience living without bread winners.
“It is more painful for the families this year than the first year. It has kicked in now that their bread winners are no more,” Malema said.
A total of 44 people were killed during the strike-related violence at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in August 2012. Thirty-four of them, mostly mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and over 250 arrested on August 16, 2012.
Ten people, among them two security guards and two police officers were killed in the preceding week. At the time, rock drill operators rejected the official union, the National Union of Mineworkers and led a wildcat strike demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
Many had left the NUM to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa arrived at the commemoration rally to a rousing welcome from the thousands of people gathered in Nkaneng informal settlement on Saturday. He told the crowd a trust fund had been established to help the families of the slain Marikana mineworkers.
“Amcu donated R2 million to start the fund which will help to build houses for widows and families of slain mineworkers,” Mathunjwa said, holding a dummy cheque.
He said Amcu would also donate R12,500 to each widow of the mineworkers killed. A stage with speakers was erected at the foot of the koppie (hill). People stood around the stage while others sat on the koppie.
Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said nothing had changed in Marikana, two years after the shooting.
“This is not the life that our Constitution promises us and this does not have to be the life that we leave for our children,” he said at the commemoration.
“We thought that democracy would bring us so much more. How wrong we were.”
Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota said he was disappointed that government had failed the people. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, he said government officials should have called the police commander and found out what happened the day of the shooting instead of establishing a commission of inquiry.
The Farlam Commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people during the strike. Representatives from government and the African National Congress did not attend the event. The ANC and the North West provincial government said they had not been invited.
In a statement on Saturday President Jacob Zuma said the day of the shooting should be a day of reflection and recommitment to peace and tolerance in the country.
“We cannot bring back those who lost their lives, but we must ensure that there is never a repeat of the tragic and painful incidents of August 2012,” he said.
“We need to recommit ourselves to ensuring that violence is never again used to solve problems of any kind in our country.” SAPA