10/09/2012 Striking Lonmin mine workers march across the mine shafts in Marikana to ensure they were all not operating and that no workers had turned up for duty. Picture: Phill Magakoe

North West -

Striking Lonmin mineworkers ignored the wage negotiations that began in Rustenburg, choosing instead to embark on a march to the Marikana mine’s shafts.

About 3 000 mineworkers made their way on Monday to three shafts in Marikana, demanding that they be shut down.

Parties to the Lonmin peace accord sat down on Monday to begin wage negotiations facilitated by the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The marching miners, armed mostly with sticks, were escorted by police as they made their way through the shafts to ensure no miners were working.

One of the miners who had turned up for work was chased by the striking workers.

He made it to the nearest police Nyala, which he was allowed to climb into to escape the wrath of the miners.

Hawkers, afraid that their stalls would be looted, fled with their products when they saw the striking miners approaching.

Police kept a close watch, but were told to stay back as the miners gathered on a football pitch in Wonderkop after they had been to each mine.

The miners said their reason for not taking part in the negotiations was that the invitation had come too late.

“We were called on Monday morning and told that we needed to send a delegation to the talks on that very same morning.

“That was unacceptable because we had only just returned from the Eastern Cape to bury the miners who were killed by the police,” said one of the miners’ leaders, Molefi Phele.

“That is why a delegation was not sent, but we hope to send a delegation there before the end of the week.”

According to Phele, the demand the miners would make at the wage talks would not be any different from the R12 500 they had been seeking since the strike began.

It could not be established what progress had been made at the talks as the meeting was continuing.

It is understood, however, that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has joined the talks, despite refusing to sign the peace accord between Lonmin and miners.

Lonmin reported on Monday that only 6.34 percent of the striking workers had turned up for work on Monday.

As the miners marched through the Lonmin mines, they were adamant that returning to work would not be an option until their demands had been met.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation was in Marikana to distribute much-needed supplies.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, lamented the strife in Marikana, which had led to the miners, women and children lining up to receive food from the foundation.

According to Sooliman, who arrived in Marikana with the foundation’s personnel and charity truck on Saturday, more than R500 000 in supplies had been distributed.

These included nappies, food, water and fruit juice.

The people of Marikana expressed their gratitude for the organisation’s intervention.

Sooliman said: “People were telling us that they are very hungry and you can just see by how many people came to receive food and other supplies that the situation here is a crisis.

“We are not on anybody’s side, but our thinking is that by bringing food here we can at least encourage a calm environment.

“So far we have heard people talking, but not giving anything, and if people are hungry there is little chance of maintaining a peaceful situation.”

Sooliman added that the foundation was uncertain about how long it would stay, saying this would depend on how long its help was needed .

“We dipped into our reserves to bring supplies here to Marikana.

“We are likely to remain here for a few more days.” - Pretoria News