The Bench Marks Foundation on Tuesday warned that tensions in the Marikana community around the Lonmin platinum mine in Rustenburg were again running high over housing.
The Bench Marks Foundation, an NGO that monitors the practices of multinational corporations, said at least one activist had been killed over a housing dispute in recent days and another was fearing for his life.
This comes as Lonmin on Monday said it was reviewing its housing plan in line with the recommendations of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, saying it was confident that it would submit a compliant plan to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
Lonmin was responding to the Presidency, which said the platinum miner’s revised Social Labour Plan was broad and without clear timelines on building houses and therefore was compelling the DMR to contemplate sterner measures, such as suspending or cancelling Lonmin’s mining rights, as progress was slow.
In a statement, Bench Marks called for the social and labour plans of all mining companies, not just those of Lonmin, to be audited, saying they were all suspect with respect to their compliance.
Bench Marks chief executive John Capel said his organisation had as long ago as 2013 revealed Lonmin’s failure to build 5 500 houses promised for workers and had at the time called on the DMR to revoke the mine’s licence.
Capel said government had instead consistently refused to heed their calls for action on Lonmin’s recalcitrance.
“Tensions are already running extremely high in the community over housing and one of our community monitors reports that a community leader, Charlie Sabata, was killed on Friday evening by a mob over a housing dispute,” Chapel said.
“Our monitor reports that Lonmin had donated land earmarked for worker housing to the local council in spite of pleas by the community not to do so. This led to some members of the community allocating houses to themselves, which resulted in the council successfully taking legal action to reclaim the houses.”
Capel said another Bench Marks community monitor was now also in fear of his life and believed that he would be the next person to be killed.
He said that Bench Marks had long proposed that all platinum producers who all promoted private home-ownership in line with the proposed Mining Charter must review this model.
“Our surveys show that workers generally don’t want to buy houses. What they want is subsidised rental accommodation or revolving stock accommodation,” Capel said.
Capel said the mining housing crisis was never going to be resolved unless both government and mining houses started listening to the workers and acted according to their interests and wishes.