Death threats to mine bosses

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PN Personal Accounts4255 (28299871) INLSA Recently released Lonmin miner Lungisile Lutshetu shows how he survived on the day of the Marikana slayings. The markings on the rocks show where the bodies of dead miners were found. Picture: Phill Magakoe

POLOKO TAU and SAPA

A GROUP of Lonmin workers yesterday allegedly threatened to kill the mine’s management if they did not shut one of its shafts, North West police said.

About 200 mineworkers met at the Eastern Platinum mine’s shaft 30 gates in the morning, spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.

A delegation of four mineworkers met a mine representative at the shaft gate and instructed management to close the shaft.

“It is reported that they said if the manager does not adhere to the instruction, they will return [today], to kill them,” Ngubane said.

The four then rejoined the other miners at the gates and they dispersed peacefully.

Lonmin’s executive vice-president of human capital, Barnard Mokwena, confirmed the events, and said the company had not opened a case with police.

Meanwhile, miners recently released have alleged their colleagues were shot for fun while down on their knees with their hands up in the air and begging for their lives.”

This was one of the statements by Lonmin striking workers, who said they considered themselves lucky to be alive after they were arrested on August 16.

A miner said the protesters were killed in cold blood by “trigger-happy police officers” on the day of the Marikana massacre.

The Lonmin employees inter-viewed by Independent Newspapers said some of those shot had surrendered to police.

Lungisile Lutshetu was among those arrested on the day and released on bail on Monday.

He took a tour of the area around the koppie yesterday where he had the “horrific experience of my life”.

Lutshetu said he believed more people than reported were killed between the rocks.

“When everyone left the mountain, I joined those who went down the mountain at the back towards Marikana West, where we live.

“We didn’t walk any far (sic) and saw people running back towards us because police had blocked their way, and suddenly shooting started on the other side of the koppie,” Lutshetu said.”We ran back up the koppie. There I found a hiding place between large rocks, but then police were already all over the place. Those in front of me were shot at close range and fell over me, and that’s how my life was spared.

“There was a Sotho man whom I saw kneeling with his hands up. He begged for his life and apologised profusely, but the heartless officers riddled [his body] with [bullets from] automatic rifles.”

Lutshetu said he had seen at least 15 people being shot dead or left injured, “only for some of the injured to be shot again in the head later and finished off”.

“I remained still, with the dead and injured piling over me. Later, they realised I was still alive and they pulled me out, ordered me to the ground with others. We were asked to slither on our stomachs towards a police Nyala,” he said.

”We spent about three hours lying on our stomachs. Those who dared raise their heads were killed.”

Lutshetu said the police officers had “boasted about how many people they have shot and how they still wanted to kill more”.

“They were proud of what they were doing… My clothes were soaked in blood and they asked why I wasn’t dead. All I could say was ‘sorry’. I think my life was spared after paramedics arrived and asked them not to shoot the injured.

“I am still wondering what happened to a man we came across while fleeing who had been shot in the chest and was asking us to pick him up and run with him. The best we could do was take him and hide him between some rocks and leave him there with blood spewing through a large gash in his chest.”

It was Johannes Mashabela’s first day at the koppie on the day of the killings. He had joined Lonmin as a rock drill operator in July.

“There was no way to run with police walls all around us, and that’s when I joined others who ran into the open field. I suddenly saw people falling around me and realised they were being shot at,” Mashabela said.

“I dived to the ground in fear that I would be caught by a bullet and spotted a Nyala driving towards me. I then stood up, but the Nyala was already by my side and I heard one of the officers screaming ‘shoot him’. Again I dived to the ground.”

While on the ground, he was kicked and his shoelaces used to tie his hands behind his back, Mashabela said. “They dragged and dumped me among the injured and dead. I don’t how I survived and now I consider myself lucky to be alive.”

Yesterday, Lonmin said it would not fire any survivors of the shooting, but warned that the prolonged strike threatens 40 000 jobs, Sapa-AFP reported.


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