Amcu denies ‘toxic relations’ caused tragedyComment on this story
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa was questioned on Thursday about a “toxic relationship” between his union and the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Legal representative for Lonmin, advocate Schalk Burger SC, cross examined Mathunjwa about relations between the two unions, who represented workers at the company's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.
Burger said the “toxic relations” between the unions contributed to deadly clashes on August 16. Police shot dead 34 striking miners near the mine, in Marikana, on that day when trying to disperse them.
Mathunjwa was testifying at the Farlam commission of inquiry, sitting in Rustenburg, into the events.
Burger said: “It was because of this toxic relationship between NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union that NUM would not even go to the koppie (on August 15) in the same vehicle with Amcu.”
In response, Mathunjwa said: “As far as I am concerned, we never had a toxic relationship with NUM. If you look at the dates where we concluded our organisational rights (about representing workers) at the mines, there was nothing like a toxic relationship.
“I cannot account for any person who decides to use their rights and makes any decisions in the matter you are referring to,” he said.
Burger was referring to an incident, recorded as a soundclip, on August 15, where NUM president Senzeni Zokwana said he would not share a platform to address the workers at the koppie with Amcu.
The remarks were at a meeting held in Rustenburg, which involved senior North West police officials, aimed at diffusion the tension at the mines.
“At the end of this inquiry, we will make submissions to the commission that there are principally two reasons for the (Marikana tragedy). I will not bother you (Mathunjwa) with the first reason,” said Burger.
“The second reason, we will say, is to be found in the relationship between Amcu and NUM as at August 2012. That is the debate I am having with you.”
Burger questioned Mathunjwa about his remarks made at the koppie on August 16, hours before the protests degenerated into chaos.
A recording of Mathunjwa’s speech shows him addressing a large group of protesters. He tells the men that employers had a “rent-a-black” policy.
“This is your speech on the morning of August 16. You started by saying Africa’s economy is in the hands of the ‘white men’. You also said ‘they take our brothers from university and give them top positions. You said that is called ‘rent-a-black’ in English,” said Burger.
“Who were you referring to? Where you referring to the gentleman you deal with at Lonmin in your daily interactions with management?” Burger asked Mathunjwa.
Mathunjwa said he was referring to Lonmin.
Chairman of the commission, retired judge Ian Farlam interjected.
“Mr Mathunjwa, which people were you referring to? Which person were you referring to... Were you referring to people who hold top positions at Lonmin?”
Mathunjwa responded: “I was just referring to blacks.”
The commission resumes on Friday when Burger will continue cross-examining Mathunjwa. - Sapa