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Rustenburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was discredited during violent protests at Lonmin's Marikana mine, the Farlam commission of inquiry heard on Tuesday.
“People we have led for many years changed against us. They labelled us as part of management, as part of the system, as refusing to open up negotiations,” union president Senzeni Zokwana
He said striking miners refused to have NUM negotiate on their behalf.
“It was not accidental.”
Zokwana said there was not only attempts to burn down the NUM office at the mine, shop stewards were threatened and some were killed. The rest had to go into hiding.
“What could we have done if people were killing our leaders? What could we have done if people didn't want to listen to us?” he asked.
He said NUM's access to strikers was limited.
“So, whoever was planning these strikes, whoever was behind these strikes made sure NUM was discredited.”
The commission was continuing its inquiry in Rustenburg of the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.
Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesters gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16 last year.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed. - Sapa