Mail and Guardian

President Jacob Zuma has told Lonmin workers that government did not plan to kill anyone, following the tragedy that left 34 dead and 78 injured.

“The inquiry I have instituted will get to the bottom of what happened here … Government did not plan to have anyone killed,” Zuma said on Wednesday afternoon at the company’s Marikana operations.

Last week 34 people were killed and 78 were woundedin a shootout between police and miners. The majority of those killed are understood to have been involved in illegal industrial action at the mine after rock drillers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) demanded their monthly salary of R4 000 be increased to R12 500.

The president ordered an inquiry into the incident earlier this week. Zuma listened attentively as about 3 000 workers, who gathered to listen to the president, shouted “Phansi amaphoyisa phansi! [down with the police]” when he arrived at the mine on Wednesday afternoon.

“We will not accept the excuses of Lonmin. We are waiting for a caucus with them. They must listen,” Tholakele Dlang, a representative of the workers and a rockdriller, said.

“The police shot our people because nobody would listen. Now is time for them to listen,” he said.

Proceedings were halted for a short while because the PA system stopped working. A disgruntled worker clicked his tongue, saying: “Eskom!”

Once the system was up and running again, another representative, identified only as Xolani, recounted the events of the shooting to Zuma. Xolani relayed the sequence of events, and as he was about to explain how the workers got shot, he spotted a police officer in the crowd.

“I see a policeman. Get him out. I won’t talk with him here,” he said.

Once the officer left, Xolani continued. “We were lying down and we heard shooting,” he said as a colleague emptied a packet of spent bullet casings on the ground.

“We go underground and sweat. We need money. We need our R12 500.” Workers gave a round of applause as Xolani mentioned expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema. Read more…