Malema listens to our cries and pain - miners
A SOMBRE-looking President Jacob Zuma yesterday stood in front of striking Lonmin workers who sang the praises of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
Zuma, who visited Marikana for the first time yesterday, was told that Malema was the first politician who came to listen to their cries and pain.
"Julius Malema has organised lawyers to free our brothers who are still locked up. We thought the person we voted for would have come with our brothers who have been arrested," said miner Xolani Ndzuza.
He said the "Friends of the ANCYL" have also helped the families of the deceased to lay a charge of murder against the police.
Ndzuza told Zuma and several cabinet ministers, that the government, in cahoots with Lonmin, had signed an agreement that striking workers should be killed by police.
Before he spoke, Zuma took a long look at the shells of the bullets that killed 34 workers last week.
Zuma explained why he could not visit the scene immediately after the shooting: "I was on my way to Mozambique when I heard that there is a strike but I left the conference when I heard what had happened."
He told the crowd he had received a report from police and had also gone to hospital to visit injured mine workers.
"They explained what had happened. I knew it was bad but did not understand the extent of the crisis".
Zuma told the workers he had set up a judicial commission of inquiry: "I want the truth about what happened. What happened here is unacceptable and there is no law that says people should be killed."
After listening to the workers, Zuma promised he would convey their message to their employer.
Zuma's visit comes as two more mines went on strike demanding a net salary of R12500.
National Union of Mineworkers' (Num) Lesiba Seshoka confirmed that rock drillers at Bafokeng and Anglo platinum mines downed tools yesterday.
"The situation is still under control and Num leaders in the region are engaging the workers," he said.
Some workers also blamed the Num - which they said was their union - for being part of the conspiracy to kill them.
"It does not mean that when there is disagreement between employer and workers, people should die," a worker said.
Association of Mineworkers and Construction president Joseph Mathunjwa said "workers' demand of R12500 was based on their net salary and not gross.
"Workers, after deduction, take home about R4000 and the employer can't refer them to their gross. Gross means nothing because that is not what they get into their pockets," he said. - firstname.lastname@example.org