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Violence escalates at Lonmin's Marikana mine

Sapa

A 10th body has been discovered at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine in the North West, about 100m away from a hilltop where workers gathered earlier.

A 10th body has been discovered at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine in the North West. (Gallo)

"We were notified of a body found in the bushes. The total figure now stands at 10. We don't know who the man was and how he died," said Captain Dennis Adriao. "First indications were that this could be linked to the violence. Police enforcement will stay on as long as it is needed."

A Sapa reporter who was on the scene said the body was lying face upwards 100m away from a hilltop where workers gathered earlier on Tuesday. A skull, which appeared to be that of an animal, had been placed on the man's chest. Police had since removed the body from the scene. The man was wearing khaki clothes.

Nine other people – two police officers, two security guards, three protesters and two other men – have been killed in violent protests at the mine since Friday.

Striking miners vowed earlier on Tuesday to stay at the top of a hill in Wonderkop, near Lonmin's Marikana mine, until their pay was raised to R12 500 a month. They claimed they were being paid R4 000 per month, and those living outside the hostel R5 000.

"We want money. We have kids to take care of," said one worker, Alfred Makhaya, from the Eastern Cape. He had been working for Lonmin for over eight years and said he was being paid R4 000 a month. He was forced to leave the hostel to rent a room so he could have the extra R1 000.

"This money is too little, I am working hard and I'm being paid so little." He said if he was not going to be paid R12 500 per month, his children would "end up being thieves", because he would be unable to pay for their education.

Another worker, Lichaba Pafkalasi from Lesotho, said the R12 500 would enable him to support his family. He claimed the mine's staff shot at him at the weekend, killing two of his group. They then decided to move to the mountain to discuss their next move. They claimed the mines sent the police to shoot them.

'Make them brave'
Earlier, about 500 men gathered on top of the mountain, armed with knobkerries and iron rods. Local residents said an inyanga (herbalist) or sangoma (traditional healer) would perform a ritual on the mountain top and sprinkle the men with muti (traditional medicine) to "make them brave".

Earlier in the day, the company said the violence since Friday was of a "vicious" nature. "I do not know any company that has the competency to deal with such vicious acts," company spokesperson Barnard Mokwena told reporters in Rustenburg. "We are dealing with people who crossed security lines repeatedly."

Mokwena was responding to criticism that the company had failed to protect its workers. He said the deaths of two security guards, who burnt to death in a company vehicle on Saturday, showed "the kind of people we are dealing with".  

Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has condemned the violence at the Lonmin mine, and blamed the fighting on political skull-duggery.

It said the outbreak of violence at Lonmin was similar to that of Implats in Rustenburg."The federation believes that violence is in this case used as a political strategy to intimidate workers into making political choices about their association," Cosatu said on Tuesday.

Misleading
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) deputy president Jeff Mthahmeme said earlier that the National Union of Mineworkers's (NUM) recognition agreement with the mine was due to expire next month.

He claimed the opposition union, which is a Cosatu affiliate, was "misleading people" to ensure its majority was maintained.

Cosatu called on Lonmin and law enforcement to investigate the causes of the violence. It also asked workers to stay unified and exercise discipline.

"The federation appeals to workers to observe maximum discipline and unity in the face of a political strategy geared towards dividing them and weakening their position in relation to mine bosses."

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Tuesday called for the violence against workers, including police officers, to stop.

"We further call on those who disguise themselves as disgruntled workers to use available channels to address their issues, as hacking police officers to death will certainly not bring them fruitful results, but jail terms," Popcru said. – Sapa

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