File picture: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.

Durban - Thirty-four Lonmin Platinum miners who were massacred by police in Marikana in 2012 died in vain because they used violence to demand better salaries instead of negotiating, said mining analyst Peter Major. 

Major, a director at Mergence Corporate Solutions, said the seven-year-old massacre still lingers in many people’s minds.

“I think they died in vain because they could have received the same results negotiating over the table. Not only the strategy they applied was wrong but also the tactics were wrong because they used violence instead of negotiating,” said Major.

He said while 34 people were killed by the police, “a couple of security guards and a couple of police officers” were killed by the miners themselves.

“Sometimes you wonder if these were strikers or terrorists or criminals. Union leaders could not keep control of the protests because of the radical elements,” Major said.

Major added that the safety working conditions in the country’s mining industry was at the world’s standard, and it had also became even better since the Marikana incident. 

“The safety is very high and it is world standard. You have 230 countries in the world and our mining safety is very near the top, and I think we are at the top 30 and sometimes we get to top 15 or 10.

“Our safety is of much higher priority here than it is in America. America has improved but we have also improved, and we are world class mining safety,” he said. 

He said while local safety keeps improving, South Africa lacks world class mining education.

“If you look at lots of our accidents it is by the people sometimes stealing something or sometimes trying to destroy something or doing something very illegal,” he said.  

Cosatu’s parliamentary Coordinator Matthew Parks also said the miners died in vain because although they achieved R12 000 salary, they were now being retrenched.

“The call was the legitimate call because we cannot have people working sometime four kilometres underground under horrific conditions being paid poverty wages yet CEOs being paid up to R100 million a year.

“The call was legitimate, but the problem is that once they get that R12 000, and immediately the workers are being retrenched because the company could not afford it,” said Parks. 

He said although the situation in terms of violence had over the years since the massacre improved there were more still to be achieved. 

“Lots of people used to be killed in many mines in the country before and after the massacre and there was a bloodbath.   

“It has improved, but we still have now and again some acts of violence such as the one that happened earlier this year at one mine (Modikwa platinum) in Limpopo where  people entered a bus transporting workers and started the killing . 

“Very few people had been brought to book for murders,” he said.

Political Bureau