Cape Town - More strife is looming at the Marikana platinum mines after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and its members warned Lonmin’s new owners they are prepared to strike for up to a year.
The union and its members used the event marking seven years since police shot and killed 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers on August 16, 2012 to warn Lonmin.
Survivor of the massacre and Lonmin mineworker Mzoxolo Magidiwana told thousands of his colleagues that the new owners of the mines, Sibanye Gold, wanted to destroy their livelihoods.
“We must show them who we are here,” he said.
Amcu members are unhappy with the salary increase offered by Sibanye Gold, which bought Lonmin in June, saying it would amount to pay hikes of R300 in the first two years and R400 in the third.
“If Sibanye is offering us R300, then the company bosses must take it and give it to their children. We are not their garden boys,” said Magidiwana, who was temporarily paralysed by 2012’s shooting.
He said what mineworkers were demanding was R17000 a month, which Amcu wants to be the minimum salary for mineworkers.
“There is no turning back, we are steadfast We are not scared of anything. If they like they will shoot us again,” Magidiwana said.
He appealed to Amcu shop stewards not to play with members’ livelihoods because the union was trusted by mineworkers.
“We don’t want any more blood to be spilt in this place. We’ve had enough,” said Magidiwana, adding that he was prepared to take bullets again.
He said the period after the massacre had been extremely difficult for him and included a period when he could not sleep at his home because he was afraid he would be murdered.
Magidiwana and 352 other mineworkers injured and arrested after the massacre took Legal Aid South Africa to court, demanding that the agency pay their lawyers.
“The ANC was involved in the Struggle, but they are in bed with the capitalists,” he said.
Andile Yawa, whose son, Cebisile Yawa, was among the 34 mineworkers killed, said the families still had a lot of unanswered questions about the deaths of their loved ones.
“Lonmin, where are those people we gave you to come and work for you? We never received a full account from you on what happened to them after you no longer needed them. We also have a question to the government: where are our children and sons? We want to know what happened to them,” said Yawa.
Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa told union members not to fear their white bosses.
“We are not poor, but we are made and managed to be poor. We are not poor. How can we be poor sitting on top of platinum?”
He blamed mine owners and managers and said if the mines were properly managed no one would be poor.