Police forces watch over the crime scene and yellow cones representing the miners' bodies in 2014 near Lonmin mine in Marikana, in the north west province. Picture: Mujahid Safodien
Police forces watch over the crime scene and yellow cones representing the miners' bodies in 2014 near Lonmin mine in Marikana, in the north west province. Picture: Mujahid Safodien

Zuma: 8/16 should be a day of unity

By African News Agency Time of article published Aug 16, 2015

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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma called on South Africans to keep the victims of a violent strike at Marikana in their thoughts and prayers as the 3rd anniversary of the events were commemorated on Sunday.

Zuma said August 16 should be a day of unity, the presidency said in a statement.

“This day must unite all of us as South Africans. Nobody supports the horrendous loss of life that occurred in Marikana.

“We remember all who lost their lives, including those who were killed before and after the 16th of August. All lives are equal and important,” Zuma said.

“We urge all South Africans to keep their families in their thoughts and prayers today [Sunday]. As government, we stand with all the people of Marikana and the people of the Eastern Cape from where many of those who died came.

“We also stand with all the people of South Africa as well, who were horrified and shocked by the tragedy that unfolded in Marikana.

“We must commit ourselves to ensuring that never again would a strike turn so violent as to lead to such a senseless loss of life in a free and democratic South Africa,” Zuma said.

In August 2012, mineworkers at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana went on a wildcat strike demanding a minimum salary of R12 500 a month.

They rejected the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and camped on top of a koppie (hill) near Nkaneng informal settlement demanding that Lonmin officials negotiate with them at the koppie.

The strike turned violent and 34 people, mostly mineworkers, died in a clash with police on August 16, 2012.

The police were apparently attempting to disarm and disperse them.

Ten other people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

On June 25, President Jacob Zuma released the report of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe the 44 deaths and make recommendations.

The commission found, among other things, that Lonmin, the NUM, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) could have prevented the strike.

However, the commission cleared Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa - a Lonmin non-executive director at the time of the strike - and various Cabinet ministers of any wrongdoing.

Zuma reiterated that the implementation of the recommendations of the Farlam Commission was being taken seriously by government.

He had received responses from the national police commissioner and the affected Cabinet ministers and was considering these.He urged that government be given space to work on a comprehensive implementation process.

Zuma said he would convene a meeting of the Mining Sector National Consultative Forum on September 8.

The forum brings together government, business, and labour to discuss implementation of the framework agreement for a sustainable mining Industry, which was entered into by government, organised business, and organised labour in October 2013 as a collective response to the Marikana tragedy.

It looks at issues of promoting the rule of law and stability, strengthening labour relations, improving working and living conditions, and supporting the growth of the mining industry.

Zuma said the meeting was being planned during a difficult period for the mining sector, economically, when many mines were running at a loss, and also the difficulties in the steel sector.

African News Agency

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