SACP calls for arrest of Amcu leaders

Protesters sing as they hold weapons outside the Lonmin mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, last week. Photo: Reuters

Protesters sing as they hold weapons outside the Lonmin mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, last week. Photo: Reuters

Published Aug 17, 2012


Marikana, North West - The leaders of Amcu should be arrested after deadly clashes at Lonmin's Marikana mine, the SA Communist Party in the North West said on Friday.

Provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha said a shootout between police and striking miners on Thursday was a “barbaric act” co-ordinated by the leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

He claimed Amcu leaders Joseph Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekilethe had been expelled from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “because of anarchy”.

Amcu has, meanwhile, called on President Jacob Zuma to order a probe into the shooting

Mathunjwa, who is its president, broke down in tears on Friday when he described the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

He said Amcu leaders went to the hilltop where protesters had gathered, without a police or a security escort, or any supervision.

“I pleaded with them: 'The writing is on the wall, they are going to kill you',” he said. They refused to come down. They wanted R12 500 (monthly pay),” he said.

“It is with great regret... and shock... that this resulted in a loss of lives,” he said.

Police moved in on protesters encamped on the hill, near the mine, on Thursday afternoon, after days of negotiations.

National police commission Riah Phiyega said on Friday that 34 people were killed.

Another 10 people, including police officers and security guards, had already been killed in separate incident since protests at the mine began last Friday.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the NUM and Amcu over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.

Sambatha said: “Mathunjwa could present an innocent face and try to smooth-talk himself out of the crisis, but we know him for who he is.”

The SACP called for the establishment of a special presidential commission to investigate the “violent nature and anarchy” associated with Amcu “wherever it establishes itself”.

“Workers must desist any temptation to mobilise them against NUM or to mobilise them to attack each other,” Sambatha said.

The Democratic Alliance wrote to Max Sisulu, speaker of the National Assembly, on Friday morning requesting an urgent debate on the Lonmin shooting, MP Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement.

“Parliament is duty-bound to debate this matter of national importance, which has shocked the nation to its core.”

The police's use of live ammunition and the order to fire on protesters needed to be fully interrogated in Parliament.

The families of those killed deserved answers, Mazibuko said.

“By getting these answers, Parliament can ensure that this horrific incident never happens again.”

The Muslim Network called on all Muslims to dedicate their next two days of fasting and prayers “for peace and reconciliation on this day of national tragedy and mourning”, it said in a statement.

This time should also honour the memories of the slain mineworkers.

“We pass on our condolences and sympathy to their families, friends and colleagues.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party condemned the violence.

Spokesman Joshua Mazibuko said: “The IFP was deeply shocked by the news of the slaughter of so many people at the Marikana

Platinum Mine...”

“... We call for sanity to prevail among all involved as the country cannot afford such acts of barbarism.”

Business Leadership SA was “deeply saddened” by the incident and called for a proper inquiry.

“The nation, including business, government and labour must also come together to consider how we collectively uphold our responsibilities to ensure the rights of citizens to a secure working environment.”

The Pan African Congress said the government needed to “take full responsibility of this massacre”.

“This government has no respect for African life,” secretary general Bennet Joko's office said in a statement.

The PAC believed that the ownership of resources needed to be addressed as “African workers continue to be spectators in the economy, in their own country”.

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba called for “strong, but measured and proportionate” response to the shooting from the government, unions and police, his office said.

“Further, the whole country must register our utter frustration at the unacceptable handling of the dispute...

“Yet, we cannot just pray for wounds to be bandaged and pain healed, and demand that conflict ends, without addressing the wider context and the underlying issues on which conflict feeds.”

Earlier, North West premier Thandi Modise condemned the loss of life at the Marikana mine.

“Survival of the fittest, anarchy and lawlessness shouldn't characterise wage negotiations in the mining sector,” she said in a statement.

“This is the most tragic labour dispute with untold misery that South Africa has ever experienced, which could have been avoided had parties involved respected the law.”

Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said in a statement that the platinum producer was “treating the developments around police operations (on Thursday) with the utmost seriousness”.

“The SA Police Service (SAPS) have been in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend...”

Phillimore denied that the shooting was to do with Lonmin's labour relations.

“It goes without saying that we deeply regret the further loss of life in what is clearly a public order, rather than labour relations-associated 1/8incident 3/8.”

The presidency announced that President Jacob Zuma would leave Mozambique, where he is attending a Southern African Development Community summit, to visit the scene of the shooting later in the day.

“The president is concerned about the violent nature of the protest, especially given that the Constitution and labour laws allow enough avenues to deal with issues, and is sympathetic to calls for a commission of inquiry,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement. - Sapa

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