Cosatu condemns Lonmin attacks

Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi has condemned the culture of violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

A man walks past a dead man following days of violence at the Lonmin mines on 14 August, 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

MARIKANA - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday condemned "a culture of violence" at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West, which it believes has been fuelled by inter-union rivalry, threats and intimidation.

The trade union federation blamed upstart union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) for the attacks which have left 10 people dead.

But Amcu is accusing the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) of instigating the violence, saying it is fighting the upstart union for recruiting its members.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi called for an end to the bloodshed.

He said nothing was more important than the protection of workers at the mine.

"There is no membership of any union that is bigger than human life."

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu urged Lonmin management and unions to come together to end the violence.

Shabangu said the violence appeared to be the result of a wage dispute and conditions of employment. She said she was not aware of the rivalry between the two unions.

Workers have denied the violence was started by union rivalry, saying they wanted their monthly salary of R4,000 tripled.

"We don't belong to any union, we all work for Lonmin. All we want is more money," a mineworker told Eyewitness News .

Lonmin said it had a wage agreement with unions and was not willing to negotiate until the violence ended.

Attendance at the mine has been low in the past few days, because employees fear for their lives following the deaths of their colleagues and two policemen.

But buses were operating in the mining district on Wednesday morning transporting miners to work.

Essential services at the mine continues while about 3,000 rock drill operators enter day six of their strike.

The Western Platinum mine will issue an ultimatum on Wednesday, to ensure all workers report for duty.

Officers have set-up camp with hundreds of special task force officers and army officials monitoring the situation.