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Marikana: The day before the shooting

The day before the shooting was characterised by meetings between miners & unions & debriefing with police.

A cross erected on the Koppie after the massacre as a symbol of the lives lost two years ago in Marikana. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The day before the August 2012 shooting was characterised by meetings between the miners and their union leaders and debriefings with police.

In August 2012, 34 miners were gunned down by the police at Lonmin's Marikana mine during a labour protest.

Ten people were also killed in the days leading up to the shooting including a mineworker, strikers, two Lonmin security guards and two policemen.

An inquiry was established by the president to investigate if the police were justified in using lethal force.

The inquiry sat for 293 days and heard testimonies from 50 witnesses about the violence that broke out at the North West platinum mine.

WATCH: 2012 Marikana shooting.

It was also on the 15 August that the decision was endorsed to remove the strikers by force if they refused to lay down their weapons.

The conversation between police and Lonmin management terminated on the basis that the following day would be D-day when the strikers either voluntarily surrendered their arms or were forced to do so by police.

However, that didn't happen for two reasons.

Firstly police commanders appreciated that it would be a breach of faith while negotiations were still proceeding.

Secondly the presidents of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) agreed to go back to Marikana in a bid to persuade their members to go back to work.

Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa and then NUM's Senzeni Zokwana went to the koppie without Lonmin's representative who reiterated that the mining firm would only negotiate in a controlled environment within bargaining structures.

Zokwana was up first he used a loudspeaker to speak to strikers but they refused to listen and he was forced to abandon his address.

Mathunjwa however had a friendlier reception.

He told the group that he had asked Lonmin for a guarantee that if they returned to work management would listen to the union.

Two debriefing sessions were held with police later that day, one with Amcu and the other with the NUM.

At the Amcu debrief, Mathunjwa came across as confident that the strikers would lay down their weapons the next day and said it would be "a day of joy for everyone".

During the NUM session, Zokwana stressed that the miners could not keep their weapons, police warned that disarming the strikers would be bloodshed and that using a firearm to disarm someone with an axe would simply never work.

Meanwhile in Midrand, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega was attending a meeting of the national management forum of the police service.

It was at that meeting that the decision to forcibly remove miners if they refused to lay down their arms was endorsed.

Not much else is known about the meeting in Midrand.

To read the full Marikana report, click here.

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