Platinum Strike: Mathunjwa warns Lonmin

The Amcu leader warned Lonmin Platinum about bypassing the union to negotiate with workers.

Thousands of miners in Marikana gathered at the stadium to be addressed by Amcu leaders on 14 May 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

MARIKANA - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) President Joseph Mathunjwa has accused the police of taking sides in the ongoing conflict in Marikana saying they're intimidating striking workers.

Four people, including three miners, have been killed in the past week in what is suspected to be strike-related violence as the strike enters its fourth month.

The Amcu leader said the police should have been deployed to the area much earlier when Amcu members were being attacked.

"The police are taking sides. How many people Amcu members while they were on strike. Nine spent cartridges were picked up in one of our shop steward's homes. I am not saying the police mustn't do what they are supposed to but the timing is questionable."

Mathunjwa has warned Lonmin Platinum that bypassing the union and bargaining directly with workers is exactly what led to the Marikana shootings in 2012.

He also objected to the increased police presence in the area saying it intimidates the workers.

Mathunjwa told workers that Lonmin's SMS campaign to get them back to work won't succeed.

He said the company hasn't learnt any lessons from the failed wage negotiations in 2012.

"When they found out there was no settlement with workers, Lonmin called the government and the police massacred workers."

The union leader also said Amcu can't be held responsible for acts of intimidation that happen outside their picketing area.

"Amcu can only be accountable in the picketing area. Anything that happens in the community is another jurisdiction for the police."

Non-unionised workers have spoken out about a climate of fear on the platinum belt and brutal attacks on workers who dare report for duty.

The Chamber of Mines earlier called on Amcu and Lonmin to honour their commitment to a peace accord and end the violence.

Mathunjwa said increased police presence in Marikana reminded him of the deadly 2012 strike by rock drill operators.

Marikana was the scene of a deadly August 2012 shooting by police in which 34 striking workers were gunned down in the area.

At the time, the standoff was described as the bloodiest shootout in post-apartheid South Africa.


Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday that authorities will concentrate on arresting those guilty of inciting violence in Marikana.

The minister and National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega warned striking workers in the North West mining town that peace is non-negotiable.

The pair visited the volatile area, despite a warning from Mathunjwa against a police build-up.

Mthethwa said authorities have been informed about a plan to destabilise the mining area, more specifically Marikana.

He said authorities will hunt down those responsible for violence in the area.

However, the minister couldn't say if any suspects have been detained for the killings at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it's deeply concerned about President Jacob Zuma's decision to remove a clause in the terms of reference for the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

According to Judge Ian Farlam, the deletion of clause 1.5 means government ministers will not have to appear before the commission.

The SAHRC'sTrevor Ngwane says government also needs to account for the Marikana shootings in 2012.

"The recent amendment to the terms of reference has the appearance of an attempt to immunise government from the commission's findings."

Yesterday, the Marikana Support Campaign (MSC) called on President Jacob Zuma to reinstate the clause.

The group said the removal of clause 1.5 will compromise the truth of the Marikana massacre.

The campaign gave the president until Monday to respond to their request.


Debt Rescue says the number of people who have applied for debt counselling has more than tripled on the platinum belt since Amcu's strike began.

The institution says small and medium businesses that have traditionally relied on mining companies to generate profit have been hit the hardest.

Sales at food outlets such as Spar and Shoprite are also estimated to have dropped by 30 percent.

Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets says, "The problem is their credit providers are now taking legal action against them. The smaller and medium sized businesses are feeling the effects because people don't have money to go and support the shops."