Rustenburg - The workers on strike at Lonmin are not violent, the SA Council of Churches said on Wednesday.
“As a leader myself, I am convinced that they are not violent; even this morning we appealed to them not to carry dangerous weapons,” SACC president Bishop Jo Seoka told reporters in Marikana, North West.
Asked about a body found near the open space where the workers met, Seoka said the man might have been killed elsewhere.
“There is no evidence that workers have murdered anyone, because they don't know what happened. We appealed to workers' delegation 1/8s 3/8 to tell workers not to carry dangerous weapons.”
He said workers would meet with mine management, the unions, traditional leaders and the SACC to talk about their demand for a monthly salary of R12 500 on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, protesters carrying pangas, knobkerries and sticks mobilised the people of Nkaneng informal settlement to march to Lonmin's smelters to find out if any workers had reported for duty.
Seoka has been part of a team trying to facilitate a resolution after a strike began a month ago.
In an earlier statement, Seoka, who is also chairman of the Benchmarks Foundation and is the Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, implored Lonmin not to fire the workers, but to put the mine into downtime for a few months and wait for calm.
“I hear rumours that if Lonmin fired all striking workers that they would then close operations for several months, hoping that the situation will return to normal,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“This would imply that workers will return home to the Eastern Cape and Transkei and that eventually the company will be able to employ again and resume production for Lonmin.”
Seoka said the striking workers had lost their leader Mgcineni Noki, who was known as “the man in the green blanket”, or “Mambush”.
Forty-five people have been killed in events associated with the strike since August 10. Ten people, including police and security guards, died in the week before police opened fire on protesters, killing 34 of them on August 16. On Tuesday, a body was found near where strikers had gathered outside the mine.
The strikers have said they will go back to work only if their salaries are increased to R12 500.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) confirmed that it would meet the parties again on Wednesday.
A precondition for the negotiations, which were to have started on Monday, was that everyone return to work.
This did not happen, and Lonmin has reported attendance figures of under 10 percent.
The CCMA has, nonetheless, continued meeting representatives of the strikers to persuade them to comply with the peace accord.
The workers selected their own committee to represent them at the negotiations.
There has been no production at the mine, which employs around 28 000 people, since August 10. - Sapa