‘Only Malema cares about Lonmin workers’

President Jacob Zuma returned to Marikana in the North West on 22 August 2012 to address striking Lonmin mineworkers. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.
Protesters wait for instructions from their leaders at Lonmin's Marikana mine. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.
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MARIKANA - President Jacob Zuma finally heeded the call from striking Lonmin mineworkers and listened to their grievances directly.

The president visited the North West town on Wednesday afternoon, almost a week after a bloody shooting claimed 34 lives.

He held a press conference and visited some of the 78 people injured in Thursday’s incident.

Speaking to Zuma, protest leader Xolani Nzuza recounted the events leading up to the bloodbath.

The president, surrounded by bodyguards and members of the inter-ministerial committee appointed to investigate the incident, listened patiently to his story.

Nzuza had harsh words for Zuma, saying expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema was the only person who cared about the miners.

Malema and former ANCYL colleagues visited the area a day after Zuma's first visit on Friday and encouraged miners to continue striking until their demands were met.

Trouble at the mine started when 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on an illegal strike over pay.

With the help of Malema, Nzuza and several mineworkers on Tuesday filed charges of murder against police officers involved in the shootout.

The former ANCYL leader accused police of using unnecessary force against demonstrators. 

In total, 44 people lost their lives in the week-long violence. 

While reporting back on Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi confirmed the president would meet and engage with community members during his second visit.

The spokesperson said Zuma had been very clear about his feelings on the Marikana shooting.

AMCU ‘SIDELINED’

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday said it had been sidelined from all meetings with Lonmin stakeholders.

The start-up union insists its members were not behind the violent clashes, which started almost two weeks ago.

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said they had been excluded from most meetings with Lonmin management, despite having over 7,000 members at the Western Platinim mine.

He said the majority of protesters belong to the National Union of Mineworkers (Num), and Amcu could not be blamed for fueling the violence.

Mathunjwa added his union was calling for peace in the mining district.

(Edited by Thato Motaung)