North West premier Job Mokgoro on Saturday appealed for peaceful elections in Marikana, near Rustenburg, and the rest of the province on May 8.
Mokgoro made his first campaign visit to Marikana on Saturday. He was in Wonderkop, a stone’s throw from Nkaneng informal settlement where 34 mineworkers were shot dead by police during a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine on August 16, 2012.
“We cannot deny the fact that in 2012 a very, very terrible thing beset this community. We are here in particular to ensure and encourage that come voting next week, people must do so peacefully,” he said.
Marikana remains volatile since then, and locals in Wonderkop say they live in fear of their neighbours from Nkaneng.
“You cannot go free as you want, there is a risk of your house being set alight, people are found dead here, we are living in fear,” said one woman who did not want to be identified for fear of her life.
Despite the looming general elections, politicians have largely avoided Marikana, with only Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and his United Democratic Movement counterpart Bantu Holomisa campaigning in Marikana.
The North West province and KwaZulu-Natal have been flagged as high risk areas going into the elections. In March, 79 potential conflict areas were identified in the North West – 30 in the Bojanala district, 22 in the Ngaka Modiri Molema district, 17 in the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati district, and 10 in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district.
Mokgoro said various government department had not done what was expected from them in terms of delivering services to communities.
“We regret the fact that various government departments have not done what was supposed to be done in terms of delivering services to our people.
“The President [Cyril Ramaphosa] is taking the lead to make sure that this is a matter of the past. You have seen actions that he has taken, numerous departments, numerous state-owned enterprises, SARS [South African Revenue Service] all over the place.
“You will also be aware that in the North West province I have also been taking actions where I found clear evidence of misdemeanour. Indeed, we do acknowledge that we have not been fair to the people in the province. We have said this publicly, our president has said this publicly, but we have also publicly undertaken to correct this mistake and make sure that we do the right thing,” he said.
As part of his visit to Marikana, Mokgoro launched a soccer tournament at the Wonderkop Stadium. The tournament will be played every year and is aimed at promoting social cohesion and nation building through sport in Marikana.
He also handed over R1 million to Seipati Mmekwa, who has been running a soup kitchen in Wonderkop. Her soup kitchen made headlines during the five-month strike at platinum mines in 2014.
The money will be used to establish a community nutrition and development centre, where locals will not only receive warm meals, but also the opportunity to develop their skills. Mokgoro said government involvement in the project was not a once off, and it would be an ongoing partnership.
– African News Agency (ANA)