The Marikana koppie in the Nkaneng informal settlement near Rustenburg was a hive of activity on Tuesday morning.
Thousands of people streamed to commemorate the lives of Lonmin mineworkers gunned down by police on this day in 2012.
Different traditional groups took turns performing on the giant stage erected near the koppie, or outcrop, as a huge mass of spectators danced and sang along.
Numerous people in the crowd were dressed in Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) green T-shirts while others wore red Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) regalia.
One Nkaneng resident who only identified himself as Thloko said he has been at the koppie since 5am.
“Today is the day of the mineworker. Today the world pays attention to us. Our message is one, we are under oppression by Lonmin. Our colleagues died but it seems their dreams will never be realised,” said Thloko as he joined a group of men and women marching backwards towards the summit of the koppie.
Several groups were marching in close formations, in different positions near the koppie. A number of men in the marches were waving traditional weapons, especially knobkerries.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa is scheduled to deliver the keynote address later on Tuesday.
The Nkaneng informal settlement is one of many informal settlements surrounding platinum mines in Rustenburg in North West. Impoverished mineworkers have to live in these shacks if they are to claim a “living out allowance” to beef up their meagre wages.
Since the 2012 tragedy the shacks have been electrified and water tanks have been placed nearby for communal use. Renting a shack costs about R500 a month.
On August 10, 2012, thousands of Lonmin platinum mineworkers downed tools when employers said they could not afford their demands for a “living wage” of R12 500 per month. Employers described the strike as illegal but workers were unrelenting and the strike persisted.
During the lead up to the shooting on August 16, there were reports of intimidation and assault between members of rival unions – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Amcu.
Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed as violence escalated in the area.
Then on August 16, police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers at a koppie near Nkaneng. More than 70 others were injured.
Tuesday marks the fourth anniversary of the Marikana tragedy, with mineworkers continuing to fight for a R12 500 minimum wage and also for August 16 to be declared a public holiday in South Africa.
After the tragedy, Marikana became a burning political issue, with opposition parties blaming the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for the worst single act of police brutality since SA became a democracy in 1994.
During the local municipal elections on August 3, the EFF won ward 26 of the Madibeng local municipality, which includes Nkaneng. The EFF also unseated the ANC in ward 32 of Rustenburg.
– African News Agency (ANA)