Zuma and Lonmin have blood on their hands, says Malema

Malema, speaking during the Marikana massacre commemoration event, said it was only in South Africa where the government could massacre 34 people and no one takes responsibility.

Malema further said that Lonmin and Zuma were behind the killing of mineworkers at Marikana.

"You got blood on your hands, innocent blood," he said to applause.

"Zuma sent the police to kill protesting workers on August 16 [last year]."

He said if Lonmin had agreed to meet workers, the miners would not have been killed.

Malema told the crowd that Jacob Zuma did not meet with the striking miners when he first came to Lonmin but had met with the employer.

Malema, who drew a rapturous applause after a round of relatively subdued speeches, said Lonmin would only become the people's friends "once R12 500" was in their pockets.

He was echoing the Lonmin's workers commitment to fight for R12 500 which Marikana massacre survivor Mzoxolo Magidiwana said would not be abandoned as that would be a betrayal of their fallen comrades.

Magidiwana, who survived at least seven gunshot wounds on August 16 testified at the Marikana commission of inquiry earlier this year.

Rising above
He said he was confident the workers would get what they were demanding as they were confident in Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa's ability.

"Do you know how hard it is to be raised by a machine boy [rock driller] and realise that you too will grow up to be a machine boy?" he said. "But we will rise above this situation."

The commemoration, in some ways, eerily echoed last year's massacre, as some workers, many clad in Amcu T-shirts, braved the scorching heat and perched themselves on the koppie where the initial salvo of gunfire was launched.

Several formations of workers carried branches and sang songs.

There was one that implored Dali Mpofu to find out the truth about who gave the order to shoot on August 16, but the most repeated one was about opening the way for the miners to vote for "leaders of intelligence".

An estimated 5 000 people were in attendance, mostly mineworkers from across the platinum belt and beyond, including friends and supporters.

Disappointment
Some workers interviewed expressed disappointment in the ANC government and the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) decision to boycott the rally.

"We wanted the president of the NUM to come to us because NUM members died as well," said Lonmin employee Bandile Mpotye.

"By doing so he would have been showing empathy with what happened a year ago on this day."

Molefi Phele, a Lonmin employee, said they had yet to see the results of last year's strike but had hope that this would change as Amcu has recently signed a recognition agreement with Lonmin.

The recognition agreement was signed on Wednesday afternoon at Lonmin's headquarters in Johannesburg.

The Democratic Left Front's Trevor Ngwane said while NUM president Senzeni Zokwana might not have been welcomed, he would have been tolerated "as people who were dying were not leaders but ordinary workers, their former comrades".

Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara told the crowd of people attending the Marikana massacre commemoration that the company would stick to its commitment to pay the schoolfees of 127 children of those killed in last year's massacre.

Magara, himself a former mineworker, said: "We will never replace your loved ones and we are deeply sorry for that, but we can hope in the following actions to soften your pain … We have heard your requests for R12 500 and we have heard your requests to replace your lost loved ones with your relatives. We are saying let's sit down and talk."

'Blood on your hands'
Friday's event marked a year since 44 people were killed during a wage-related strike at Lonmin's Marikana operations.

Thirty-four mineworkers were killed when police fired on them on August 16 while attempting to disperse and disarm them. The workers – armed with spears, pangas, iron rods and knobkerries – had gathered on top of a hill. They demanded a monthly salary of R12 500.

Ten people, including two policemen, were killed in strike-related violence in the week before the shooting. Malema was given a hero's welcome when he arrived at the rally earlier on Friday.

The crowd clapped, whistled, and raised hands when he arrived. Guests in a VIP tent rose when he entered. Malema wore a red EFF beret, a black shirt, and dark sunglasses.

Malema arranged for lawyers to represent 270 mineworkers arrested after the shooting. At the time he was suspended as leader of the ANC Youth League. He was later expelled from the ANC. – Additional reporting by Sapa

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo is the editor of Friday, the arts and culture section of the Mail and Guardian.
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