Unions continue the Marikana blame game

NUM & Amcu continue to blame each other for sparking the violence in Marikana in 2012.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa took part in EWN’s panel discussion on the findings of the Farlam Commission’s report released by President Jacob Zuma on 25 June 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Monday continued to blame each other for sparking the violence in Marikana almost three years ago, with the Farlam Commission of Inquiry finding that both unions didn't do enough to stop the killings.

President Jacob Zuma released the report last week, which strongly criticises the police's conduct on the day 34 miners were shot and killed.

On Monday union leaders, analysts and interested parties discussed the inquiry's findings at a special Eyewitness News debate.

WATCH: Marikana report debate: NUM and Amcu face off

The Commission strongly criticised the police's conduct on the day 34 miners were gunned down by police but also accused other parties of many wrongdoings in the days leading up to the shooting.

Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa said when protesters were shot at by members from the NUM, they armed themselves and retreated to the koppie.

This is what he called a 'game changer'.

Mathunjwa also criticised NUM's leadership and the decisions they made in 2012.

"Saying 'let the stage unleash the soldiers to go and break the strike', I mean what kind of leadership were they showing there?"

But the NUM's Livhuwani Mammburu disagreed with Mathunjwa.

"We have to be very careful when dealing with a pathological liar like Mr Mathunjwa. The Commission found that the strikers who marched to the NUM's offices did so with violent intent and found that the actions of the NUM can't be criticised."

The public representatives have called the report a 'white wash' and have criticised the decision not to hold the executive accountable.


Meanwhile, the widow of one of the security guards killed during the unprotected strike at Lonmin in 2012 says she desperately needs some form of compensation to pay for her child's education and secure her future.

Frans Mabelane was allegedly killed by striking workers in Marikana in the days leading up the shooting of 34 workers and his body was found mutilated and badly burnt.

Today his wife Ouma Tsotetsi was visited by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader Mmusi Maimane.

She says it's the first time someone has come to see how she's coping and if she needs anything.

Tsotetsi says her husband was the sole bread winner for her and their 11-year-old daughter and they've been left asking for handouts.

"The child is too young and has to learn and be prepared for her future and the person who is responsible for her is no more, that's why I think we should be compensated."

Mabelane's security company opened a trust fund to support his daughter but it only pays out R500 a month.

The widow says she's also unemployed.

"I now rely on my first born child who is employed."

Maimane told the family the DA would fight for Parliament to force Lonmin and the government to compensate all families affected by the tragedy.

WATCH: Marikana report: no truth no justice.


At the same time, concerns have been raised about the role the labour unions played in the days leading up to the Marikana shooting with strong evidence that they didn't do enough to quell the violence.

Former Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says unions have a basic function to communicate issues between the workers and the employers but this became a problem in 2012.

"There was a gap and the reason the strike broke out is because there was a genuine grievance from the mineworkers who felt unrepresented."

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the miners, says the underlying causes were not explored by the inquiry.

"Maybe it confined itself to who pulled the trigger and all sorts of technicalities about who was standing where without really interrogating the underlying fundamental matters."