Marikana – 50 shooters to be charged with murder as ANC backs bosses against AMCU

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Living conditions for millions of South African workers
Living conditions for millions of South African workers

FAMILIES of 34 South African Marikana miners shot dead by police in 2012, arrived at the ongoing Inquiry into the massacre, being held in Pretoria, last Monday and heard that over 50 shooters are to be charged with murder.

The relatives were mainly widows of the Lonmin miners.

The inquiry is investigating the events of the 16 August 2012, when 34 striking miners were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week a further ten people were killed during the strike.

The Marikana massacre is the worst for South Africa since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre under the racist apartheid regime or the 1976 Soweto uprising.

In Sharpeville, 69 unarmed anti-Pass Law demonstrators were gunned down by police and in June 16, 1976, and hundreds of school children and youth were gunned down in demonstrations in Soweto.

African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma established the Farlam inquiry shortly after the Marikana massacre.

However many believe that the ANC bear responsibility for the events as the police are under their governmental command and control.

Initially it was said that the commission would be completed by April, however it has been extended, again. Despite this, the inquiry is making some startling revelations.

The last couple of weeks have been critically important and fascinating.

A remarkable admission was made during cross-examination by the overall commander at Marikana, General Mirriam Zukiswa Mbombo.

Dali Mpofu SC, representing wounded and arrested Marikana miners at the inquiry, says there are over 50 shooters on the list to be charged with murder and General Mirriam Mbombo is number four on his list.

She was being cross-examined by advocate Michelle le Roux for the Human Rights Commission.

General Mirriam Mbombo admitted that she had not known that there was no written plan for the deadly Stage 3 in which the 34 miners shot dead by police, until she discovered this at the Commission.

She had sought, and gained, the approval of the heads of the police to go ahead with disarming, dispersing and arresting the striking miners at least 48 hours before that fateful Thursday, in August of 2012.

Mbombo said: ‘I thought there was a plan, but as Colonel Scott testified and indicated that there was no plan, I do not know how that happened. It also shocks me.’<br

Instead, the operational planner, Lt Col Duncan Scott, used a Google Maps image of the area and told the rest of the police commanders how events would transpire.

Mbombo believed that there was a written plan, with exact instructions that underlay the maps. There was not.<br /

During the cross-examination, Mbombo, police provincial commissioner for the North West province, had to agree that she had, in fact, given the go-ahead on the basis of a plan that did not exist.

This is despite standing police order 262 that requires a written operational plan.

The meeting on 16 August, at 1:30pm, just two-and-a-half hours before the police moved in on the strikers at the granite Koppie at Marikana, was the first time that any concept of how Stage 3 would happen was put to the policemen.

It was nothing more than an oral presentation with a few maps as visual aids.

Even the operational commander himself, General Mpembe, recognised that the police would be unable to disarm the full group of strikers on the Koppie.

He admitted that it should be done in the morning when there were no more than the 1,000 who had taken to sleeping on the Koppie. Mpembe said there would be bloodshed.

Meanwhile the current platinum miners strike for a living wage is escalating.

The struggle is led by the Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Joseph Mathunjwa the President of AMCU has said that AMCU is rightfully refusing to budge from their demands for entry-level pay of R12,500.

Referring to the ANC government, Mathunjwa said: ‘The same government that we AMCU members’ elected, is now conspiring against us with capitalist companies’.

The ANC has had a long alliance with AMCU’s rival the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Since the strike started on January 23, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has slapped the union with a claim for damages caused during the strike of close to R600m.

This was on the advice of ANC Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

There is now a push to get the strike declared illegal.

Bosses of the three platinum groups involved, Amplats CEO Chris Griffith, Lonmin’s Ben Magara and Impala Platinum’s Terence Goodlace, have taken action against AMCU for ‘not sticking to strike rules’.

Asked how he would deal with the claim of R591m, Mathunjwa said: ‘Amplats must be possessed by demons and needs to have hands laid on.

‘We don’t have that kind of money … we are not one of their joint venture partners.’

The Department of Labour is investigating the union’s auditing practices, desperately digging for dirt to attempt to deregister the union, which would means it would be illegal for the union to operate.

Defending AMCU, Joseph Maqhekeni of the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) said: ‘But why did they not raise these issues in previous years, why now, now that we are in the middle of a high-profile strike.’

AMCU is affiliated to NACTU, which believes the actions have been orchestrated in an attempt to crush the union, or at least to apply sufficient pressure on AMCU to settle.

Currently the miners are on a wage of just R5,500 which is not enough to live on.

Millions of South African workers are living in abject poverty in sprawling shanty towns with corrugated aluminium shacks, with no electricity, toilets, running water, with whole families constantly on the verge of starvation.

The employers are only offering an increase of 9% in the first year, 8% in the second and 7.5% in the third which is completely unacceptable to the striking miners who demand nothing less then R12,500.

Meanwhile the split between NUMSA, the South African Metal workers union and the ANC-linked COASTU trade union federation has widened.

NUMSA has made a principled stand against the ANC ruling party.

The union resolved at its congress in December not to support the ANC in the upcoming general elections.

COSATU has given Numsa an ultimatum, threatening the metalworkers’ union with suspension and even expulsion from the federation.

NUMSA defiantly said on Monday that it will not respond to the ultimatum until it received certain documentation.

NUMSA spokesperson Castro Ngobese said: ‘There are certain things we have requested from COSATU, such as the attendance register and the minutes of the Special Central Executive Committee meeting.

‘From where we are sitting, NUMSA is not the first union of COSATU to take a decision not to support the ANC. . . Those unions were never requested to explain themselves.’

He said that NUMSA suspected that a faction within the COSATU, led by its president Sidumo Dlamini, intended ensuring the union was expelled from the trade union federation.