Marikana: Amcu president points finger at 'sinister forces'

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Mathunjwa told the Farlam commission of inquiry that he believed that "sinister forces unknown to ourselves" were possibly linked to the National Union of Mineworkers campaign to "reclaim Lonmin".

Led by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) legal representative Tim Bruinders, Mathunjwa said it was workers that had formulated the demand of R12 500 and the first time he had heard of it was on August 13, after he had developed a clearer picture of what was transpiring at Lonmin.

Mathunjwa said that in late July, he had spoken to Lonmin vice-president of human capital and external affairs Barnard Mokwena, who informed him of "rumours" of workers marching on management to bring a memorandum and had advised him to set up a meeting with the unions so the matter could be dealt with urgently. Mathunjwa said he never heard from Mokwena until August 10, when rock drill operators were marching on Lonmin's head offices.

Mathunjwa said Mokwena told him that Lonmin would not receive the memorandum but would, instead, defer that responsibility to the police.

Mathunjwa also added that they didn't oppose Lonmin's application to halt the strike as they believed that it was not protected and therefore did not endorse it.

Mathunjwa said that on Sunday August 12, he had received a text message from Mokwena saying, "Hey broer, 4 people shot at Wonderkop, call an urgent meeting with your members." By that time, Jeff Mphahlele and Dumisani Nkalitshana  had already been to the koppie where workers were meeting and were able to update him on the situation.

On August 14, Amcu convened a press conference, where Mathunjwa said: "Without laying blame, we suspect sinister forces are behind this. We heard of the NUM's campaign to reclaim Lonmin. It is a campaign that is ongoing and involves top political officials. Management had wanted to terminate the recognition agreement of NUM on October 2012, should they be unable to regain membership within three months."

Much of the early session weas spent listening to an August 15 SAfm interview in which Mokwena, Mathunjwa and NUM president Senzeni Zokwana participated. In the interview Mokwena denied that they had engaged workers outside of trade union structures, thereby fuelling strike, saying that the R700 they had offered workers was a routine bonus which various categories receive at various points of their operations.

The commission continues.

 
Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011. Read more from Kwanele Sosibo

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