Lonmin miners refuse to return to work

Striking miners at Lonmin say they would rather die than return to work.

Protesters await instruction from their leaders, at Lonmin's Marikana mine. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The situation at Lonmin's Marikana mine on Monday was being closely watched to see if miners will return to work after the latest ultimatum by management.

A total of 34 miners were killed and 78 others wounded when police opened fire on protestors last week Thursday a week of violent demonstration.

The week before, 10 people, including two policemen and two female security guards were killed.

It still remains unclear whether the 3000 drill rock operators were going to return to work.

Lonmin management extended its ultimatum over the weekend saying employees must return to work or face losing their jobs.

But the miners said they would rather die than return to slavery.

The conflict was initially blamed on inter-union rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Association (AMCU).

AMCU said Lonmin management had failed to return to the negotiation table.

But NUM said AMCU had promised workers more money.

Workers are demanded salary increases and refuse to get back to work until their living and working conditions are improved.

Police arrested 259 protesters last week Thursday following the violent confrontation between police and striking workers.

They are expected to appear in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Monday.

After President Jacob Zuma visited the mine over the weekend, his spokesperson Mac Maharaj confirmed that a judicial commission of inquiry will be launched into the tragedy.

Maharaj said the shooting must be investigated thoroughly.

"The judicial commission will have the necessary powers of subpoena. We expect an announcement from President Jacob Zuma in two days time."

Maharaj said the conditions leading up to the shooting deeply affected Zuma.

"Zuma said he would go back to see what conditions the workers work under."