South Africa 29.11.2012 11:00 am

Mathunjwa “knew miners were going to be killed”

FILE PICTURE: The President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, Photo: Johann Hattingh/Citizen

FILE PICTURE: The President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, Photo: Johann Hattingh/Citizen

Rustenburg – Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa had failed in all avenues to find a resolution to a volatile Lonmin Platinum Mine strike, hours before 34 miners were shot dead by police in Marikana on August 16.

During his testimony to the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, Mathunjwa described the frustration he experienced in trying to get hold of mine management and the SA Police Service on the day of the shooting.

Because of his unsuccessful attempts, Mathunjwa said he knew miners were going to be killed.

“The provincial commissioner said to us ‘this thing must end today’. Subsequent to that, that very same commissioner wasn’t able to meet with us. The management reneged from its commitment… and the same management was not able to meet with us… Based on those facts it was clear to me the decision has been taken that these workers are going to be killed.”

On the day of the shooting Mathunjwa said he was told that Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo had left Marikana for an ANC torch bearing ceremony and management indicated they were not prepared to meet with workers.

Mathunjwa addressed the miners from a police Nyala on the evening of August 15, asking them to lay down their weapons and return to work.

In recordings of the address played to the commission yesterday, workers indicated that they wanted to see Mathunjwa at 9am the next day and wanted him to take their messages back to management.

Lonmin had wanted workers to renounce violence, return to work peacefully and then engage.

Mathunjwa said he understood that workers were prepared to engage with the employer and go back to work, and was optimistic by their response.

Explaining his frustrations on August 16, Mathunjwa said he visited Lonmin offices asking to speak to Jomo Kwadi, Lonmin’s senior manager of employee relations.

After begging a security guard to let him through, Kwadi finally met him in the foyer.

Kwadi said that management still needed to be consulted, claimed Mathunjwa.

After returning after about 40 minutes, Kwadi said he had bad news.

Management was no longer committed to their commitment and said it had a two year agreement in place, the commission heard.

“I was actually agitated… I felt we were betrayed as a union.”

Lonmin’s Barnard Mokwena then met Mathunjwa and handed him a cellphone. On the other line was Mbombo.

“She was very rude to me… I kept asking her who are you. She responded that’s not important, but you made a commitment to workers to meet at 9am. I said I’m not able, (I have) been delayed by management who somersaulted from their commitment. She said she doesn’t care about that.”

Mathunjwa then left to a police Joint Operational Center where he met Mbombo who informed him that she was now in charge.

“She said, we are late, the sun is hot and this thing must finish today,” he told the commission.

“It was difficult to speak to miners after meeting Lonmin,” Mathunjwa said, adding that he once again advised strikers to return to work.

A number of Amcu and National Union of Mineworkers supporters attended yesterdays inquiry being held at the Civic Center in Rustenburg.

Proceedings Continue.

 

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