Lonmin rock drillers to earn more than R12,500 next year

Thousands of people gathered in Marikana on Thursday to observe the sixth anniversary of the Marikana massacre in which 34 miners were gunned down by police in the middle of a protracted wage strike by workers of Lonmin mine.
Thousands of people gathered in Marikana on Thursday to observe the sixth anniversary of the Marikana massacre in which 34 miners were gunned down by police in the middle of a protracted wage strike by workers of Lonmin mine.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Wonderkop in Marikana, North West, the scene of the 2012 killing of striking miners, was gripped for a moment by sorrow as the names of the 34 miners gunned down by police were called out from the stage.

On Thursday a band softly played solemn songs Lizalis'idinga Lakho and Senzeni Na? with widows and relatives on stage, as the roll call of the victims of that fateful Thursday August 16 2012 was made as part of the sixth commemoration of the tragic event.

A rock drill operator from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, who did not want to be named, could not hold back his tears as he heard the names of his fallen colleagues.

"I knew all these men, these heroes. I worked with them. Some are from my village. Hearing their names brings tears to my eyes. I can actually hear their cries as bullets rained on us that day," he said.

It was a solemn day for all those who gathered on the Marikana koppie.
It was a solemn day for all those who gathered on the Marikana koppie.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the union that organised workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine, said the government was refusing to concede that the mass killing was a massacre because it would then be declared a crime against humanity.

Mathunjwa said those who were commanding the police on that day must face the international criminal justice system at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

"These commanders must be criminally charged at the International Court of Justice. the day of the commander is coming. The focus must be on the line commanders and ultimately the then commander-in-chief," he said, to thunderous applause.

Miner Lindile Ntoyi, 32, said the battle for R12 500, proper accommodation and safety underground their co-workers died fighting for, continues.

"We still do not get R12 500 we were fighting for. Some miners still live in squalor in Nkaneng [informal settlement], with no water or electricity. The fight continues."

Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said by next year, the salaries of rock drill operators will exceed R12 500.

He said they have refurbished all hostels and that in the past five years the platinum giant has spent R500- million on workers' accommodation. "We are proud [of the progress] but it is not enough. We do not have money," Magara said.

He added that 3.8% of Lonmin's profit would go to workers every year, if the company did well.

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