MARIKANA - Expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema on Saturday blamed senior ANC leaders for the massacre of 34 people at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana, North West.
Malema addressed a crowd of thousands in Wonderkop village, where police and protesters clashed on Thursday.
President Jacob Zuma on Friday cut short his trip to a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in Mozambique to join other officials at the site of the shootout that left 34 people dead, almost 80 injured and over 250 arrested.
Zuma held a press conference at a centre outside Marikana township and announced a commission would be set-up to investigate the root of the violent attacks and killings.
But on Saturday, Malema said senior ANC leaders were responsible for the massacre of the 34 people.
He said he and other former ANCYL leaders were in solidarity with striking miners because government and police had turned their backs on them.
Malema claims protesters were killed because Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) chairperson, owns shares in the Western Platinum mine.
He said police had no authority to use live ammunition, even if strikers did fire the first shots.
The former ANCYL leader also called for Zuma and Mthethwa to step down, saying Zuma had presided over the crisis.
Malema’s call was met with loud applause from many who attended the gathering.
Closing his address, the fiery Malema encouraged miners to continue striking until all their demands were met.
Miners dispersed to Lonmin Mine’s private holding cells after the meeting, where they claimed other miners were being detained.
Protesters said they would also visit their injured colleagues in local hospitals.
Last week Friday, some 3, 000 rock drill operators went on an illegal strike.
It was initially claimed rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was to blame for the strike, but mineworkers soon revealed they were demanding salary increases.
Violent clashes erupted within 24 hours, killing eight mine employees and two out of the hundred police officers deployed to the area.
Attempts by union leaders, Lonmin mine management, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to end the violence proved futile.
On Thursday, clashes between protestors and police killed 34 miners and injured 78 others.
Footage in which police used live ammunition to disperse crowds left many outraged, but Phiyega said police were forced to use live ammunition when protestors fired shots first.
Malema was expelled from the ANC in April, after he made comments that Zuma had turned the party into an unbearable dictatorship.
Malema failed to convince the party’s NDCA to turn the expulsion around in May.
He has vowed to make a return to the party at its national elective conference in December and is convinced Zuma will be denied a second term to govern the ruling party.
ALLEGED ABUSE TO ARRESTED PROTESTERS
Residents of Marikana have called for the immediate release of 259 workers arrested during clashes between police and protesters on Thursday.
Women protesters, who joined the strike this week, protested outside the mine on Saturday and demanded their husbands be released.
Leaders representing mineworkers said some protesters were forced to flee their homes because police were in search of them.
Leaders claim those apprehended were locked in one of the mine’s units and were being tortured by the police.
But police spokesperson Captain Dennis Adrio strongly disputed the allegations, saying suspects were locked in police cells and would appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Striking mineworkers vowed to only return to work once their colleagues were released and when management at Lonmin agreed to negotiate salary and employment conditions with them.
(Edited by Thato Motaung)