BOTHO MOLOSANKWE, LEBOGANG SEALE AND SAPA
Rustenburg - An Amcu shop steward called for calm on Tuesday morning as tension continued to rise on the troubled platinum belt. The steward was addressing a group of striking miners as some of their colleagues began returning to work.
Police have moved reinforcements into Marikana in North West and the army has been placed on standby.
On Tuesday morning increased mine security vehicles were also patrolling as non-striking mine workers were escorted back to mine shafts.
Eyewitness News reporter Govan Whittles observed that striking mine workers had gathered nearby.
The added security comes as Lonmin and Impala Platinum reportedly pleaded with the government for an increase in police visibility after four Lonmin employees were killed in separate attacks over the past 72 hours. This as some workers started to return to work to meet the company’s deadline for them to do so by tomorrow.
The Star understands that the army has been deployed to the area and are stationed at the Rustenburg police’s public order base in the case of eventuality in Marikana.
Police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the soldiers would be on standby. “They are our supplementary forces. The operation is run by the SAPS,” he said.
Over the past 72 hours, a 60-year-old miner was stabbed to death, another miner died after being set alight, and a third mineworker and his wife were strangled.
Fears of friction between striking miners and those wanting to resume work arose when the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) objected to employers approaching miners with their wage offer directly in a bid to end the strike.
Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin had called on Amcu to exercise responsible leadership.
“We recognise the right to strike as a fundamental right of employees, a right which has been respected throughout the dispute,” they said.
“But we have a responsibility to communicate directly with our employees… our employees wish to return to work but have expressed a fear of continued intimidation and violence.”
No violence was reported overnight in the Rustenburg platinum belt.
The companies urged Amcu to recognise and uphold the rights of those who wanted to work.
Amcu members at Implats, Lonmin and Amplats have been on strike since January 23 demanding a basic salary of R12 500 a month.
The strike has cost the companies about R14.4 billion in revenue and workers have lost over R6.4bn in earnings.
The R12 500 demand stems from a violent wildcat strike in Marikana near Rustenburg in August 2012, during which Lonmin workers demanded that as a basic monthly salary.
Forty-four people were killed during the strike that year.
Thirty-four mineworkers were killed on August 16 when police fired on them while allegedly trying to disarm and disperse them. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.
President Jacob Zuma appointed retired judge Ian Farlam to chair a commission probing the 44 deaths.