Shabagu to intervene to stop violence

2012-08-14 22:46

Cape Town - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Tuesday that she was prepared to intervene to try and resolve the dispute at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in the North West, where 10 people have been killed in violence linked to a battle for dominance between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

"It's quite clear it's rivalry between the two unions. If this matter continues we are going to be involved in the process of making sure we find peace," she told Reuters.

Since the violence started on Friday during an illegal strike held by 3 000 rock drill operators, 10 people have been killed, including two police officers who were hacked to death, while police confirmed that three protesters who were killed on Monday were shot dead by officers who were acting in self-defence.

Of the others killed, two were security guards who were stabbed and had firebombs hurled at their car.

One miner was shot while trying to report for work, while another was hacked to death in his hostel room, AFP reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, scores of police officers, including units mounted on horseback backed by armoured vehicles, descended on the Marikana facility to prevent any repeat of the violence.

Police helicopters clattered overhead as officers set up checkpoints and laid down barbed wire.

In a nearby township, a group of men, apparently mine workers, gathered carrying sticks and bars.

Sapa reported that the tenth victim was discovered near the mine on Tuesday.

"We were notified of a body found in the bushes. We don't know who the man was and how he died," said Captain Dennis Adriao.

"First indications were that this could be linked to the violence. Police enforcement will stay on as long as it is needed."

A Sapa reporter who was on the scene said the body was lying face upwards 100m away from a hilltop where about 500 men had gathered, armed with knobkerries and iron rods.

A skull, which appeared to be that of an animal, had been placed on the man's chest. Police had since removed the body from the scene.

Local residents had earlier said an inyanga (herbalist) or sangoma (traditional healer) would perform a ritual on the mountain top and sprinkle the men with muti (traditional medicine) to "make them brave".


The striking miners who regrouped on top of the hill are refusing to move until until their pay is more than tripled.

They are demanding that their pay be pushed up to R12 500 from R4 000 per month. Those workers who live outside the hostel earn R5 000 a month.

"We want money. We have kids to take care of," said one worker, Alfred Makhaya, from the Eastern Cape.

He had been working for Lonmin for over eight years and was being paid R4 000 a month. He was forced to leave the hostel to rent a room so he could have an extra R1 000.

"This money is too little, I am working hard and I'm being paid so little."

He said if he was not going to be paid R12 500 per month, his children would end up being thieves, because he would be unable to pay for their education.

While the situation remains tense, Lonmin has decided to freeze mining operations in the country, Reuters said.

Executives at Lonmin said mining had stopped at all its shafts across the South African platinum belt, though essential services such as ventilation were continuing. The fact that the shafts remain operational should allow mining to restart as soon as miners return to work.

"Until the place is safe we don't want to talk about production," Lonmin spokesperson Barnard Mokwena told a press briefing at Marikana.

He defended the company against criticism that it had failed to protect its workers.

"I do not know any company that has the competency to deal with such vicious acts. We are dealing with people who crossed security lines repeatedly."

He said the violent acts, such as the killings of two security guards, could have happened anywhere.

The company said it would issue the employees who initiated the stay away with an ultimatum on Wednesday.

This could lead to the dismissal of at least 3 000 mineworkers should they not return to work.

Mouthing off

Meanwhile, the tit-for-tat blame game between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) continues.

The violence at the mine has been linked to a in a membership turf war between the two unions, the rivalry which had already caused friction at Lonmin's Karee mine.

Amcu claims that the mine's management favours its rival NUM.

"Management, they are in support of NUM, they're sleeping in one bed with NUM," Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told a news briefing. 

The union's deputy president, Jeff Mthahmeme, said that NUM's recognition agreement with the mine was due to expire next month, and that it was "misleading people" to ensure its majority was maintained.

Amcu officials deny their members are behind the unrest, but a pattern of illegal strikes followed by violence is emerging in the wake of their recruiting efforts.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni in turn blamed blamed the violence on the upstart union, AP reported.

Baleni described the unrest as "a simple criminal action" and said that its union rival preyed on "highly embedded" workers at the mine.

"These people are taking advantage of the common social challenges of people in this area," the union leader said.

"There's a high level of unemployment as we know, secondly workers are highly indebted, so it's easy to go to workers and say that if you belong to us, we will get you more money."

He said Amcu's claim that the Num was about to lose recognition status was "hogwash".

"We have over 60% representation at Lonmin. We are the majority union and are growing."

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also weighed in on the situation, condemning the violence, and blamed the fighting on political skull-duggery, according to Sapa.

"The federation believes that violence is in this case used as a political strategy to intimidate workers into making political choices about their association," Cosatu said.

"The federation appeals to workers to observe maximum discipline and unity in the face of a political strategy geared towards dividing them and weakening their position in relation to mine bosses."

  • christopher.laurenz.5 - 2012-08-14 22:54

    ok..the violence has already occured...thanks for stopping it coward..

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-08-14 23:08

      Yep whilst LonMin was going down, our dear mini-stress was negotiating the return of illegal miners. She's only now ready because the CEO of LonMin has arrived. Our Pres reckons the most urgent problem is museums. So hey, 10 dead, countless injured, tortured and mutilatedis really not a problem. South Africa is safe. Vote now, we will solve the problems later

      grootrot.vanzyl - 2012-08-15 00:03

      Is Num not part of government? Are they not associated with Cosatu which is part of the governing alliance? Minitah, you are ministah for the whole of SA, not only for your cronies.

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-08-14 23:17

    WHY has Susan Shabangu only woken up FOUR days later claiming she 'was prepared' to intervene to try and resolve the dispute.. Ai Ai.... Did we have a long weekend? 10 lives {and counting} could of been spared with a 'PROMP' response..

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-08-14 23:28

      Sending 10 illegal miners back to Zim is FAR more important. We rant and rave daily about govt's lack of action. We now have to realise that every inaction has a reason way beyond what we mere mortals will ever know.

      sean.lambie.3 - 2012-08-15 02:41

      Eish !! What is she going to achieve ??

      sean.lambie.3 - 2012-08-15 02:43

      Madam was most probably bussy with her private business interests

      ruan.nielsen.3 - 2012-08-15 07:44


  • kingkongVB - 2012-08-14 23:19

    10 dead and now she is ready.f sake human life meens nothing in sa

  • vivian.harris.73 - 2012-08-14 23:29

    WTF!!! Was she waiting for more people to die before she stepped in?

  • fareed.kaloo - 2012-08-14 23:36

    Seriously News24? Who proofreads these articles? Just because I get the seriousness of the message, doesn't mean it needs to be delivered via a shovel and a wheelbarrow. The quality of your reporting and grammar is shocking at the very least.

  • michael.i.wright - 2012-08-14 23:40

    Prepared to intervene? How nice of her. A bit like the fire department deciding to intervene when five floors of your apartment block are on fire...oh wait.

  • Erna - 2012-08-14 23:54

    What is she waiting for? The next ten people to die. They should fire the whole lot - plenty of unemployed people who are prepared to work.

  • monde.sibisi - 2012-08-14 23:55

    Since Friday, the bells are only ringing now on her head

      joubert.joep - 2012-08-15 04:39

      Have you ever tried to control people in such a situation? It is extremely difficult and I do not even see her make a difference she will just be another person there that can not promise them more money or beter membership! What I like about it is that it is unions fighting - ANC you created it - ANC you sort your own teenager out... hehe

  • walter.lebza - 2012-08-15 00:07

    It is wrong to kill someone in order to show your boss that you siriously want an increase. At the same time it is wrong to employ someone in a risky job for eight years and pay him R4000, as if some people don't have needs. With that money you can't afford to buy a house, you can't afford to take 1 child to university, you cannot even afford to buy grocery for a family of 2.This mining companies must pay their workers they make billions of profits annualy.

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-08-15 00:50

      I agree with everything you are saying - R4000 is a disgrace for the work they are doing. But if they had a proper union looking out for them, somebody with a voice of reason, this would never have turned into the mess it is in now.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-15 01:55

    News 24, I am tired of: A - your app crashing all the time B - you deleting comments posted C - adverts poping up all the time I will make a point not to ever buy anything from these advertisers.

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-08-15 10:44

      Well said Mandy. I've never come across a public forum that doesn't want honest comments. News24 your moderators are pathetic. If they see something they do not personally agree with, they delete it. Please change this juvenile approach ASAP.

  • peter.fraser.92754 - 2012-08-15 05:01

    WHATSHEGONNADO ? Experience what will be the future madam.Politicians are killing each other over leadership (just read the press), so miners does the same. The ANC rubbishes any opposition parties input in this country.They cannot see that the DA governs the Western Cape reasonably well. They cannot stand the fact that an opposition party is in charge of a province. They have promised to make it ungovernable. Look how violent they have been over the last week.ANCYL denies they are the organisers.Heheheheh...we aint pumpkins you hooligans. So the ANC sets an example how not to tolerate opposition. So you shall reap what you sow madam.This mining killings are NOT about wage increases only.READ. Now lets see if those ANC moderators of News24 also deletes this post as they cannot take any critism against their bosses.

  • edwin.dinake.1 - 2012-08-15 06:42

    R5000? Really? If this is true then it's nothing but an insult to mine workers. This people have families to support and this includes paying tertiary fees for their children, no body can afford to do this out of this amount. wait and see how much the CEO and the management get's as bonuses annually and count the number of fatals occuring underground every year.

      william.letsong.5 - 2012-08-15 07:38

      I total agree with what you are saying. R4-5000 is an insult to the man/woman who must work in such dangerous conditions while their bossed are reaping the profits of their hard work. However, their (workers) children can apply for NSFAS to study, I did and so did thousands of other students. 2, why going for a large family when you don't have the cash to maintain it.

  • Thebigguyjim - 2012-08-15 06:45

    I will bet you if you dig deeper the two unions support different factions of the ANC.

  • themba.thwala.98 - 2012-08-15 06:56

    I will not be surprised if this has something to do with the stupidity that has engulfed the ANC since the mob that shamelessly usurped Parliament`s powers and relieved the President of his Office. NUM is Gwed Mantashe`s former union that he led. They want Zuma and his cheerleaders to carry on plundering and ruining the country. The other Union probably made up of those who want to see the back of JZ. The same thing is happening within the Alliance all over the country as the `cadres` wrestle for political dominance in the run up to the ANC`s December elective conference. What a shame the liberation movement is now led by `predatory hyenas`and `jackals`

      taylor.motlatsi - 2012-08-15 07:27

      Themba but Kgalema Motlanthe is also from the same union (NUM)

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-08-15 12:08

      I know. The point is that the `dominant` party is NUM, and it wants Zuma back in power.

  • millionwatts1 - 2012-08-15 07:05

    She must resign. 10 people dead and you still THINKING of doing SOMETHING?!

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-08-15 07:06

    News24, your "facts" change every day. Yesterday it was policemen who burnt to death, today its security guards.

  • jacques.pretorius.967 - 2012-08-15 10:28

    when will the South African government see that unions in this country act like the Mafia, if they don't get what they want they strike, kill and damage property.

  • pages:
  • 1