NUM members feel targeted in Marikana

The union says members fear for their lives as Amcu’s platinum strike drags on amidst violence.

FILE: The army and police have been deployed in Marikana as fears of more violence remain. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/MARIKANA - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says some of its members have become targets in Marikana as a lengthy platinum sector strike continues, despite calls for peace from the striking Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Police have been deployed to the North West platinum belt this week after four people were killed in the area.

The violence comes as Amcu's strike at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum mines nears the four-month mark.

There have been tensions between Amcu and the NUM since 2012 when dozens of miners were killed during another massive strike.

Earlier today, Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa said the rules around the strike were clear.

"Our members should remain as peaceful as they were when the strike started on 23 January. They must not allow the detractors to incite or instigate them."

But NUM's Frans Baleni says members of his union still fear for their lives.

"We have to beef up security for our members. In some instances, we should move them from where they're staying because they have become targets, especially in the informal settlements."

Baleni has even gone as far as recommending that NUM members stay away from strike-hit mines due to alleged intimidation by Amcu members.

"Many workers - including non-members - who want to return to work are actually very, very scared. Lonmin claims 80 percent of workers want to return to work. But they are afraid to do so because of the violence and intimidation."

He said his members could also consider changing their routes of getting to work while the Amcu strike continued.

Meanwhile, Lonmin has appealed to Amcu to return to the negotiating table, saying the strike must come to an end one way or another.

Lonmin's Lerato Molebatsi says the company is ready to restart negotiations.

"I believe that Amcu wants the same thing as what we want - a return back to work and a peaceful resolution to the strike. The only way to do it is if we can get back to the negotiating table."

Molebatsi says if this is not possible the mine may consider approaching the courts, adding, "The levels of violence and intimidation are worrying".

The company today issued an update on the strike and confirmed some Amcu members were returning to work despite the union's formal rejection of its nine percent wage offer.

Amcu has maintained its demand for a basic salary of R12,500.

To date, the strike has cost companies more than R14 billion.