Marikana - August 16 must be a public holiday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said on Wednesday.
"August 16 must be celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa and throughout the world, and not only in Marikana. The workers must not go to work, but to celebrate here in Marikana," Malema said.
He said last year the EFF had pledged to give the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) R1 million to build houses for families of slain Marikana mineworkers.
"We promised to give Amcu R1 million, we did exactly that and we are still going to contribute more. Amcu must know they got an alliance in the EFF. If you want anything raised in parliament, come to us," he said.
Malema was warmly welcomed in Marikana, the crowd chanting "Juju, Juju!" when he walked into the stage, led by North West provincial chairperson of the EFF Betty Diale, while EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu followed.
Malema’s arrival interrupted a pastor who was opening the proceedings with a reading from scripture.
“Allow me to finish, he [Malema] will address you,” the pastor Twala said as the crowd chanting “Juju, Juju” drowned him out.
The crowd then went into raptures when Malema was formally introduced.
Other political leaders present were Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Bantu Holomisa of the United Democratic Movement (UDM). Lonmin CEO Ben Magara was also present.
At least 44 people were killed during a violent wage strike at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana near Rustenburg in the North West province. About 28,000 Lonmin mineworkers went on a wildcat strike demanding to be paid a minimum basic salary of R12,500 per month.
The workers rejected the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and elected to be represented by a workers committee. They spend days on top of a koppie at Nkaneng informal settlement, refusing to come down and demand that the employer came to negotiate with them at the koppie.
On August 16, 2012, 34 mineworkers were gunned down by police. Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed a week earlier.