Four people have been shot and taken to various hospitals in Marikana in the North West province, according to Appearance Ndlovu, a member of Marikana Cluster Crisis Movement.
The organisation of community members has been protesting against various mining companies in the area, demanding they effect positive changes promised to them.
Workers at a Sibanye-Stillwater mine site in Marikana allegedly opened fire on protesters on Wednesday night, injuring four people. It was unclear whether any of the victims were critically injured.
While those who were at the scene claimed the shooters were mineworkers, some members of the Marikana Cluster Crisis Movement believed security officials carried out the shootings at the behest of the mine.
But a member of the group who was at the scene, Raserole Mashamaite, sent out a voice note accusing mineworkers of being behind the attack.
“The mineworkers are shooting the community members. So as I speak, there are community members who are injured. We cannot confirm if others are seriously injured or what.
“What I can confirm is that the mineworkers are shooting the community members. We are trying to protect all community members but it is difficult for us because those mineworkers are colluding with security officers. They are just shooting randomly,” he said in the voice note.
Among the issues for the community are high rates of unemployment and poverty in the area. Residents face widespread poverty despite the presence of multinational companies who make billions from mining in the area.
“We embarked on a protest last month. Last night we had a meeting with Sibanye here in Marikana regarding what was happening in the community last month. They responded and said they didn’t have jobs for the local community. That was part of our demands on our memorandum. When they gave us their response last week they gave us the same answer. So we took to the streets,” Ndlovu said.
According to Ndlovu, the mine contacted the group on Wednesday night after the shootings, encouraging them not to open any criminal cases in the shooting. It also apparently informed them the company would not be pressing any charges in relation to the protest.
Residents are demanding more opportunities for people around Marikana. They want the mine to make good on its promise to pay the community in the form of a 6% stake in the profits made from the mine through the Mmaditlhlokwa Community Trust.
They are also against the company’s decision to hire former police general William Mpempe, who was tried for the killing of mineworkers at Lonmin in Marikana in 2012.
“There is this tendency of the former general Mpempe working at the mine to victimise us. He was involved in Marikana. When we protest against the mine they always victimise us and open cases and interdict the community from protesting against them,” Ndlovu said.
James Wellsted, Senior Vice President: Investor Relations at Sibanye-Stillwater replied to Citizen’s enquiries, saying they were unaware of the incidents.
“We are not aware of any shooting incidents at all or any incidents involving our employees. We will obviously investigate these claims and take appropriate action if they are true,” Wellsted said.
“I can confirm that none of our security employees were involved, however.”
“We are aware of an altercation between two groups but at this stage do not know the circumstances that led to the altercation or who was involved or how many people were injured. We will again investigate this along with the police and take appropriate action if required once we have more details.”