Johannesburg - This week's violent
clash between police and striking workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine
was senseless, Nehawu said on Friday.
"This atrocious and senseless
killing of workers is deplorable and unnecessary...," National
Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union spokesman Sizwe Pamla
said in a statement.
The union called for an urgent
investigation into the shooting.
A total of 34 people were killed in a
shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to
disperse striking miners.
More than 78 people were injured.
Another 10 people had been killed in
the violent protests at the mine over the past week.
The protests were believed to be linked
to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over
recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.
"Our union feels that Lonmin
[JSE:LON] should be made to account for this tragedy, and we also
demand an investigation on the role of labour brokers in this whole
(saga)," Pamla said.
The remuneration and working conditions
of miners also needed to be addressed, as "these mining
companies have been allowed to get away with murder... for far too
Nehawu said it was saddened by what it
described as "schisms" in the labour movement at a time
when unity was needed.
Pamla also criticised the police
response to the protests, which erupted when thousands of rock drill
operators downed tools last Friday.
"Our police service has adopted
and perfected the apartheid tactics and the militarisation of the
service, and encouraged the use of force to resolve disputes and
Police tactics and training needed to
be reviewed in light of Thursday's shooting, he said.
"The union demands that all police
officers who deal with protests be taught... disciplined ways of
controlling... the protesters because we cannot afford to have a
police force that is slaughtering protesters in the new
The Black Business Council (BBC)
described Thursday's shooting as a "bloodbath".
Secretary Sandile Zungu condemned the
violent confrontation and extended the BBC's condolences to the
families of the dead workers.
The council called for an
all-encompassing judicial commission of inquiry probe into industrial
action in South Africa.
The Right2Know campaign said in a
statement a number of "burning questions" had to be
Allegations that police forced
journalists to delete photographs of the shooting needed to be
"South Africa must also demand
answers of Lonmin Platinum Mine; as anger and outrage mounts, the
role of mining executives in undermining fair labour processes and
potentially exacerbating conflict must also be scrutinised."
African Christian Democratic Party
leader Kenneth Meshoe conveyed the party's condolences to those who
lost loved ones in the violence and said the parties involved needed
to be held accountable for the bloodshed.
"The SA Police Service and
leadership of both the radical Amcu and the NUM must take
responsibility for the lives which have been lost."
Police should have used non-lethal
weapons, such as water cannons, teargas, and rubber bullets in their
intervention, which the ACDP felt came too late.
Meshoe said: "While the ACDP
respects the constitutional right of all citizens to embark on
peaceful strike action, we nevertheless will urge government to make
it illegal for any citizen to strike while armed or wielding
Earlier, North West premier Thandi
Modise condemned the loss of life at the Marikana mine.
"Survival of the fittest, anarchy,
and lawlessness shouldn't characterise wage negotiations in the
mining sector," she said in a statement.
"This is the most tragic labour
dispute with untold misery that South Africa has ever experienced,
which could have been avoided had parties involved respected the
Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said
in a statement the platinum producer was "treating the
developments around police operations (on Thursday) with the utmost
"The SA Police Service have been
in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence
between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend..."
Phillimore denied that the shooting had
to do with Lonmin's labour relations.
"It goes without saying that we
deeply regret the further loss of life in what is clearly a public
order, rather than labour relations-associated (incident)."
The presidency announced that President
Jacob Zuma would leave Mozambique, where he is attending a Southern
African Development Community summit, to visit the scene of the
shooting later in the day.
"The president is concerned about
the violent nature of the protest, especially given that the
Constitution and labour laws allow enough avenues to deal with
issues, and is sympathetic to calls for a commission of inquiry,"
presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
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