6:37 PM (31 minutes ago)
Other media put this figure at 44 dead.
Wives of miners at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine, northwest of Johannesburg, took the place of dead and wounded husbands on Friday in staging a protest.
But this time instead of asking for higher wages as the miners had done, the women demanded to know why police had opened fire Thursday with automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns on the strikers, many of whom had been armed with spears, machetes and clubs, as they rushed toward the officers.
Police said at a news conference that it was in self-defence, noting that strikers even possessed a pistol taken from a police officer they had beaten to death on Monday. But video footage indicates the miners may have simply been trying to flee tear gas that police had fired at them moments earlier.
As the miners rushed away from a hill they had occupied and that was being tear-gassed, police opened fire, including with automatic rifles. Police were perhaps jumpy, knowing that the strikers were armed and that two officers had already died earlier in the week.
"Police stop shooting our husbands and sons," read a banner carried by the women on Friday. They kneeled before shotgun-toting police and sang a protest song, saying "What have we done?" in the Xhosa language.
National police Chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega told a packed news conference that Thursday was a dark day for South Africa and that it was no time for pointing fingers, even as people compared the shootings to apartheid-era state violence and political parties and labour unions demanded an investigation.
Zuma returned home from a summit in Mozambique and announced an official inquiry into the killings, which he called shocking and tragic. The president headed directly to the mine, 70 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, where his office said he would visit injured miners in the hospital.
At least 10 other people were killed during the week-old strike, including the two police officers battered to death by strikers and two mine security guards burned alive when strikers set their vehicle ablaze.
Makhosi Mbongane, a 32-year-old winch operator, said mine managers should have come to the striking workers rather than send police. Strikers were demanding monthly salary raises from R4 000 to R12 500. Mbongane vowed that he was not going back to work and would not allow anyone else to do so either.
"They can beat us, kill us and kick and trample on us with their feet, do whatever they want to do, we aren't going to go back to work," he told The Associated Press. "If they employ other people they won't be able to work either. We will stay here and kill them."
Research released by the Bench Marks Foundation, a non-governmental organisation monitoring the practices of multinational mining corporations, found that Lonmin had a bad track record with high levels of fatalities and keeping workers in "very poor living conditions".
According to the report released Tuesday, workers often live in deteriorating shacks without electricity. Some children suffer from chronic illnesses due to sewage spills caused by broken drainage.
The mining company said earlier that it would withhold comment on the report until the conflict situation cooled down.
Myriad problems are facing South Africa 18 years after white racist rule ended, including growing inequality between a white minority joined by a small black elite while most blacks endure high unemployment and inadequate housing, health care and education.
The shootings "awaken us to the reality of the time bomb that has stopped ticking - it has exploded," The Sowetan newspaper said in a front-page editorial Friday. "Africans are pitted against each other... They are fighting for a bigger slice of the mineral wealth of the country."
The youth wing of the ruling African National Congress party argues that nationalization of the nation's mines and farms is the only way to redress the evils of the apartheid past. Zuma's government has played down those demands.
Lonmin PLC chairman Roger Phillimore issued a statement Friday saying the deaths were deeply regretted.
At hospitals in the area, people gathered, hoping to find missing family members among the wounded. At the scrubland scene of the killings, a woman carrying a baby on her back said she was looking for a missing miner.
"My husband left yesterday morning at 7am to come to the protest and he never came back," said Nobantu Mkhuze.
Shares in Lonmin PLC fell as much as 8% Friday. Since violence broke out last weekend at the Marikana mine, shares have fallen by as much as 20%, wiping some R5 billion off the company's market value.
The company, the world's third-largest platinum miner, has also been hit by Thursday's announcement that chief executive Ian Farmer is hospitalised with a serious illness.
Meanwhile Friday, police investigators and forensic experts watched by about 100 people combed the scene of the shooting, planting multicoloured cones and numbered placards to mark evidence amid the dirt and bushes where the shooting took place. Police also searched the rocky outcropping where thousands of miners had gathered daily to strike.
The South African Police Service defended officers' actions, saying in a statement that they were "viciously attacked by the [strikers], using a variety of weapons, including firearms. The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self-defence, were forced to engage the group with force."
Poor South Africans protest daily across the country for basic services like running water, housing and better health and education. Protests often turn violent, with people charging that ANC leaders have joined the white minority that continues to enrich itself while life becomes ever harder for the black majority.
The Law Society of South Africa said the miners "have been the victims of an escalating breakdown in conflict resolution, particularly in the mining industry."
"This breakdown is symptomatic of our society and body politic in South Africa," the society added.
While the initial walkout and protest focused on wages, violence has been fueled by the struggles between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart and more radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
NUM secretary-general Frans Baleni has said that some of his union members were on a hit list, including a shop steward killed Tuesday by strikers.
Around three police nyalas were parked in the area.
Police heeded Malema's call and moved their vehicles about a kilometre away from the gathering.
Malema arrived in Wonderkop a short while ago.
He was given a warm welcome by the residents and mineworkers when he arrived.
Women ululated while men, who had been seated, stood up and clapped their hands.
Some of the women were waving placards reading: "Julius Malema, Boeremag, please stand up".
One woman who held a placard with that message explained that she meant to send a message to Malema that the boer (white men) have killed their husbands.
She said they wanted Malema to help them.
Shot in the back
Another woman carried a placard reading "R500 reward for killing police, Musina to Cape Town do your best."
She explained that her placard meant that anyone who could kill police officers from the start of the country in Limpopo to the tip of it in the Western Cape would receive a R500 reward.
For the first time, women and men were seated in one gathering since the start of the unrest.
The women were still however, separated from the men by a fence.
Former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu and suspended league secretary, Sindiso Magaqa were also present.
Earlier, Shivambu said he understood the pleas of the miners and said the police were wrong to utilise maximum force to disperse them.
"Most of the people were shot at the back, indicating that they were running away so police actions were not justified," he said.
A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.
More than 78 people were injured. Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.
President Jacob Zuma visited Lonmin yesterday where he condemned the violence. He called for an inquiry into the incident. – Sapa.
"President Zuma decided over the massacre of our people, he must step down."
Malema was speaking in Wonderkop where around 34 people were killed in a clash between police on Thursday.
He said Mthethwa must also resign because the police shot people under his command.
"He must resign because he failed in executing his duties."
Malema told the crowd that the police were supposed to protect them and not kill them.
"It has never happened before that so many people were killed in a single day and it became normal," he said.
Malema, who pledged his support for the striking mineworkers urged them not to retreat and to stand firm on their demand for a R12 500 salary.
Not a president
He said the reason the police shot at the people was because they were protecting the interest of ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member, Cyril Ramaphosa, who, he alleged, owned shares in Lonmin.
"Lonmin had a high political connection that is why our people were killed. They were killed to protect the shares of Cyril Ramaphosa," he said.
He told the gathering that it was amazing that Ramaphosa was able to buy a buffalo for R18-million but could not pay them the R12 500 they were demanding.
Earlier today, the Shanduka Group, which was formed by Cyril Ramaphosa, pledged R2-million for the burial of scores of people killed in the Lonmin clashes.
Malema said one reason why he called for the resignation of President Zuma was that he failed in his duty to protect the citizens of the country.
"When you were killed, Zuma was still in the country. He decided to go to Maputo, Mozambique and once he was there he was advised that he made a wrong decision. That is why he returned to the country yesterday [Friday]."
He told the crowd that if they were asked who is the president of the country, they should say they do not have a president.
"I don't have a president. Zuma is not a president."
He called on the mineworkers to form a militant union that would represent their interests.
He said that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was no longer a union that represented the interests of the workers but was interested in making more money.
"NUM is not a union, it's a company. They hold shares in mining companies, that is why when there are problems in the mines they are the first to sell out the workers."
The crowd dispersed peacefully after Malema's address.
A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine when police tried to disperse striking miners.
More than 78 people were injured. Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week. – Sapa.
ALEC HOGG: We have just got to hand an e-mail from Lonmin. They’ve been pretty scarce as far as it comes to discussing the issues with us directly. Apparently the spokesman, who’s been on top of this until now, Barnard Mokwena, has himself gone in for therapy, so he’s taken a lot of strain out of all of this. But the one point that did come out of the Lonmin statement that I've just been scanning is that Lonmin has committed to provide funding for the education of all the children of the employees who lost their lives. This funding will cover education from primary school to university. Lonmin it says has for many years worked tirelessly to achieve effective and open labour relations.
Well, believe that if you will.
Let’s start off now with a little bit of background. Andrew Levy spoke to us through the week but on Tuesday night he gave us these insights which indeed turned out to be extremely insightful. Let’s hear what Andrew had to say.
ANDREW LEVY: Fundamentally it seems to me that what we have here is something which has spread. It's spread from Impala. It's been brewing for a while and the trigger seems to be the rock-drill operators or the RDOs. Now, the rock-drill operators are something of a labour elite – they are absolutely key to the production process. These are the guys who, as the name suggests, drill the shot holes for the blasting. And they have for some time been arguing for a regrade of their position. And because they are in a very strong bottleneck situation, and nothing happens without them, their bargaining power is great.
Now if the rock-drill operators wanted to stop the mine and they decided that no-one was going to work – that’s where it began. And I think that they are of the view that NUM is doing nothing for them, which is why they have been burning down NUM offices. The fact of the matter is that neither of the two unions is in control. Neither of the two unions is taking any credible stand to deal with this issue. What is even more concerning is that, other than the police presence, government has yet to show its hand and make strong statements.
ALEC HOGG: Well, that was before yesterday’s tragedy, when automatic rifle fire from the South African Police Service killed 34 and injured 78. I'm sure, if you have been in South Africa or been anywhere near Moneyweb, you would have seen the video footage which is rather horrific.
Talking about the two unions involved here, NUM, the National Union of Mineworkers on the one hand – we did speak with the representative on Tuesday night – has been scarce since them.
However, AMCU is the other union that has been blamed by NUM for starting everything. It held a media conference today and Moneyweb’s Eleanor Seggie was there. What exactly went on, Eleanor?
ELEANOR SEGGIE: Well, a visibly emotional and repeatedly upset president, Mathunjwa, broke down in tears in front of the media. He said this wasn’t a turf war between NUM and AMCU. It was rather a worker issue. He went into precise detail, telling us how AMCU tried to engage Lonmin management with feedback from the workers, which was fruitless. And he said the massacre could have been avoided if Lonmin management didn’t renege on its commitment to engage with the unions and the workers on their demands.
ALEC HOGG: So the rock-drill operators that Andrew Levy told us about were paid around R5 000 a month. They wanted apparently R12 500 a month. Not bad – double and-a-half. Were they offered anything? Did you get any feedback on that?
ELEANOR SEGGIE: Well, apparently from speaking to the workers, he said that a NUM representative had told them that a R700 increase was on the table, and the workers wanted to come to an agreement with management to reach R12 500 over a period of time. They realised that it wouldn’t happen overnight, and he was trying to convey this to management but he was having no luck with that.
ALEC HOGG: Well, that’s what the head of AMCU, at whom many are pointing fingers for inciting the crowd, has to say. We go now to Moneyweb’s Malcolm Rees at the mine. Hi, Malcolm. Give us a little bit of feedback. On Tuesday night you were warning there were lots of people on the koppie. That clearly was the rock-drill operators, who had been on strike on an apparently illegal strike. There were all kinds of well-publicised problems yesterday – the massacre, as Eleanor has called it. What happened today?
MALCOLM REES: Well, today, Alec, I've been holed up at the Lonmin convention centre, where this morning the police essentially defended the action, basically arguing self-defence. They showed us some footage of quite an intimidating crowd of strikers, which did seem to indicate that they had attempted to push through a barrier that the police had erected. And after being unable to control them with rubber bullets the argument is that they then opened fire, using live ammunition. They’ve essentially stated that the action was justified and there is some indication that there might be an external investigation into that.
ALEC HOGG: Was there any word from NUM during the course of the day?
MALCOLM REES: Not from where I was, Alec. I've been waiting for President Zuma to come and address the media. He’s actually just arrived … and we are waiting for Zuma.
ALEC HOGG: And has it all settled down, as far as the hostility and violence is concerned?
MALCOLM REES: Well, the police did indicate that that there is still quite a strong level of tension. I’d imagine that would be case. I couldn’t really gauge from where I was, but there was a report today of a shooting that broke out in the hotels – apparently one man was killed.
ALEC HOGG: Was that anything to do with the rock-drill operators and the problems that have gone on for the past week?
MALCOLM REES: At this point it's quite impossible to say. I’d assume that it had something to do with it. The police indicated that they had arrested about 350 of the strikers, of the 2 000 that had amassed on the hill, so we can only assume that the remainder had filtered back into the … townships, and obviously that is going to create a lot of tension in the area. I’d imagine that is has to do with that.
ALEC HOGG: Do you have any update on how many people have passed on?
MALCOLM REES: Yes, the official figure is 34 in yesterday’s violence, which brings the total figure to 44. …
ALEC HOGG: Piet Matosa from the National Union of Mineworkers joins us now. Good to have you on the programme, Mr Matosa. Once again AMCU today had a press conference, making all kinds of allegations as it did earlier in the week when we spoke to you on Tuesday. Having digested what's happened over this period of time, what are the lessons that NUM has learnt?
PIET MATOSA: Well, good evening to you and the listeners. What we have learnt is that telling people lies is something terrible for …people things that cannot be delivered is something very wrong, and now that there are 34 people that have died, I think people will come to their senses and provide the necessary and expected leadership instead of going around saying things that are not existing, instead of going around promising people things that cannot be delivered.
ALEC HOGG: When we spoke on Tuesday night, 10 people had already died. Another 34 died yesterday. On Tuesday I asked you what you were doing about instilling discipline in your members. Was there anything you could have done, in your opinion, to have saved some of those lives?
PIET MATOSA: Remember, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers went on top of that mountain to talk to those people. Unfortunately he couldn’t talk to them because they wanted to come out of the…and they had demands that they must come…and then the security had to come in to say there was an agreement that there should be a certain distance between the president and those mineworkers who were on strike. But on top of that, remember, I also said that we had meetings, we are planning meetings to talk to our members before the end of this week or this weekend. Still the regional leadership and the branch leadership are organising meetings to talk to our members. Unfortunately now we cannot say that our members were involved in this violence because some people are saying they’ve been forced to go on top of the mountain.
ALEC HOGG: We've all seen the video footage – what do you make of it? Were the strikers rushing at the police? Were the police justified in opening fire?
PIET MATOSA: Well, I've never been a policeman, firstly. I don’t know when to fire. But what I know is that police have to maintain law and order. I only saw that on my TV as well that there was exchange of gunshots between the people who were on the mountain and the policemen.
ALEC HOGG: Piet Matosa, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Let’s pick up with Peter Major now from Cadiz. Peter, this has had a significant impact on the value of the Lonmin shares. It's also had an influence on the price of platinum, as we heard earlier from Wayne McCurrie. What's your reading? Have either of those been overdone?
PETER MAJOR: Ja, I think they’ve all been overdone. A month ago we heard there were 800 000 extra ounces of platinum floating around, so if a mine loses 15 000 ounces in a week you still have 785 000 ounces overhang. So ja, it's definitely a speculative move that platinum went up $60 in a day-and-a-half.
ALEC HOGG: So hard-nosed investors – how were they reacting to this?
PETER MAJOR: I think the real hard-nosed investors went in and bought about 1.5m Lonmin shares today. It opened up about 5 or 6% down, it looked like to me, and it closed down less than 0.5%. So Lonmin did much better than the market today. I think it's fallen too far and people are looking what's the scrap value of this company, what's just the ore in the ground worth. Regardless of how long this violence continues the share price is not reflecting nearly what the NAV of the company is.
ALEC HOGG: Peter, the management activity here, or the management actions of Lonmin have been little short of pathetic. They have been keeping a low profile. They certainly were unable to nip any of this in the bud, and now we have a national tragedy that’ll live on in South Africa’s history. If they are such bad managers in labour relations, why can we trust them to run a mine decently?
PETER MAJOR: Look, I'd be kind of slow pointing at Lonmin when their CEO is in very serious condition in hospital in London. And my information is Amplats had a similar strike by rock-drill operators not even a week ago. They did manage to contain it, but we know that Impala had a very messy situation with rock-drill operators five, six months ago. So this is an issue that’s going from mine to mine. Was it Lonmin that’s responsible for all these deaths? I don’t know. They maybe reacted too weakly. But gee, I don’t know what I would have done in their shoes. I think there’s a lot of scared people there – and who really wants to negotiate if they are carrying weapons? I don’t want to negotiate with anybody carrying weapons.
ALEC HOGG: Peter Major from Cadiz. Clive Simpkins is our go-to man on communication strategy. Clive, perhaps you disagree with me, but the communications employed in this crisis situation from Lonmin seem to leave a lot to be desired.
CLIVE SIMPKINS: Alec, you know, the very first thing that goes through my mind is that they were really caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, because where you have a faction union like AMCU trying to sabre-rattle and establish its credentials and leach membership from NUM, my concern is that Lonmin really may have become caught between some very Machiavellian manipulation on the part of the two unions, because it would be in NUM’s interest if you looked at it to stand back and say, “Well, all right, AMCU, let’s see what you do then” and let this whole thing turn into a conflagration so we can say “you see what happens when you can't control the people”.
On the other hand, and I've seen this time and time again, and we had the same discussion when there was the Woolworths-Frankie’s issue, and that is that the corporate lawyers get involved very, very quickly and typically prevent the management making reasonable, coherent and timeous statements.
And in this case, for example, regardless of the fact that the PR person may be in therapy and the CEO is in hospital, you can have a magnificent crisis-containment strategy and a reputation strategy in place but, if the lawyers say you can't go and make any comment on this because we have to work on what the implications might be from a lawsuit and perspective, they are really shackled in the process. Having said that, it would appear that there was no plan B, because in any organisation you surely would have to have a contingency setup which says if something happened to the CEO and the head of PR, who were flying in an aircraft and got killed, who would be the spokesperson, what would we do? And there does seem to have been a failure on that front.
ALEC HOGG: The question seems to be the first deaths happened last Friday, and Tuesday again there were further deaths. Only on Thursday did we have the massacre that we all remember. It does appear that they had plenty of time to address this properly.
CLIVE SIMPKINS: I suppose the difficulty is if it's something to do directly with your workers, then I would go and drag in that extremely able person by the name of Andrew Levy that you chatted to a little earlier, or a Gavin Brown of the world, because they certainly seem very capable of bringing warring factions to the table.
But if – and this is just speculation – it is actually a turf war between the National Union of Mineworkers and this attempted fledgling new kid on the block, AMCU, then I believe that Lonmin are in an incredibly invidious position because there’s not an awful lot you can do. And regretfully the fallout is now laid fairly and squarely at their door.
ALEC HOGG: Clive Simpkins, communication strategist.
ALEC HOGG: Well, the human side of all of this is equally tragic. Gerrie Pretorius from Life Counsel joins us now. Gerrie, thanks for your contribution to our programme this evening. We must not forget there were people who witnessed this, people who were involved in this, there are families involved here. What does one do as a psychologist – or what are the impacts likely trauma-wise on those individuals?
GERRIE PRETORIUS: Good evening, Alec. Let me first of all say this is a very sensitive situation, and we all witnessed it on television. First, I can just tell you that psychologically, emotionally, all these people involved in those incidents family-wise are in a bit of a not good situation at this moment. It is very important that they would understand and that they get professional help or at least just talk to someone. Both of these people don’t even have the opportunity to talk to anyone or to a professional, and psychologically, emotionally, it's draining. For them to lose their loved ones, families, it is not a good situation to be in.
ALEC HOGG: So if you were advising Lonmin, would you tell them to fly in dozens of psychologists to start helping people come to terms with it?
GERRIE PRETORIUS: No, I don’t think you have to fly – I think social workers, even if they can understand a little bit more of what is going on, so they can just get a little bit of help – they just need a guideline of how to react, to know what it is to be in a traumatic situation. Most of these people don’t know what it is to be in a traumatic situation, they don’t know how to deal with these situations. But we just need someone to maybe guide them as to “these are the emotions that you will go through, this is what we can do for you, it is OK to think like that, it's OK to have these emotions” – and they need to know how to deal with themselves, otherwise they end up in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and it leads to further and further bad things for them health-wise.
ALEC HOGG: What about the impact on the national psyche? We've all seen this and I think most of us are terribly ashamed of what’s happened to our country in this instance.
GERRIE PRETORIUS: Nationally I just think we need to be aware, we need to be on the lookout, look at what is happening around us, start to sense a situation. People need to be aware of what's going on around us, need to look out. That's why I think be sensitive, look out.
ALEC HOGG: Gerrie Pretorius is a psychologist.
Well, the image of this country has taken a knock in all of this, Wayne. Have the foreigners been selling our shares?
WAYNE McCURRIE: They are indeed sellers. They are selling the retailers, specifically also selling Bidvest, and a couple of other shares and MTN – but the retailers they are selling specifically. And it's not helped by two factors.
The latest retail results that have just come out – Truworths and Clicks – are disappointing the share price. I'm not saying they are bad results, but they are probably not as good as what the share price is anticipating.
And the second thing is obviously the shares themselves are expensive, and this whole violence. So they are strong, strong sellers.
ALEC HOGG: So we cannot underestimate the international impact of an incident like this?
WAYNE McCURRIE: No, you can't.
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