Malema hears from Lonmin strikers

Lonmin mineworkers on Saturday took turns to discuss the massacre at the Marikana mine.

Expelled ANCYL president Julius Malema arrives at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the North West on 18 August 2012. He plans to mediate with striking workers and management. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

MARIKANA - Expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema on Saturday arrived in Wonderkop village in the North West to address striking Lonmin mineworkers and thousands more.

Malema and other former ANCYL leaders received a heroes welcome from the thousands of men and women gathered in Wonderkop.

The former ANCYL leader said he and his former colleagues had descended on the mining town in solidarity with striking miners.

About 3, 000 rock drill operators downed tools last week Friday.

Union rivalry was initially blamed for the strike, but mineworkers soon came forward demanding salary increases.

Violent clashes soon erupted, killing eight mine employees and two out of the hundred policemen deployed to the area.

Union leaders, Lonmin mine management, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to intervene and put an end to the violent attacks, but miners said they were prepared to die for their demands to be met.

On Thursday, at least 34 miners were killed, 78 others injured and over 400 arrested during clashes with police.

Footage in which police used live ammunition to disperse crowds left many outraged.

Malema met with representatives of Lonmin's striking employees before addressing the crowd.

Mineworkers sang songs in support of Malema and the league jubilantly, before mineworker representatives took turns to discuss Thursday's mass murder.

The men, who asked not be named, said they were approaching police to mediate the situation when shots were fired at protesters.

President Jacob Zuma also visited the area on Friday, after cutting short his trip to a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in Mozambique.

The President 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.

He urged those involved to stop blaming each other and put an end to the "unacceptable" bloodbath.

Some Marikana residents on Saturday told Eyewitness News they were disappointed Zuma did not address them personally.

Residents said they hoped for an opportunity to give the president their account of what happened at the Western Platinum mine on Thursday.

They said police lied when they claimed protesting miners attacked them first.

A group of young men who were part of the protest said some of their colleagues were run-over by police nyalas.

Mineworkers have vowed to stay away from work until Lonmin management negotiates salaries and employment conditions with them.