Socialist Worker

Outrage at plan to charge miners with 'murder' of their colleagues

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2318

Striking platinum miners in Marikana returned to the mountain after the massacre in defiance of bosses (Pic: Thapelo Lekgowa)

Striking platinum miners in Marikana returned to the 'mountain' after the massacre in defiance of bosses (Pic: Thapelo Lekgowa)

The South African state is threatening to charge some 270 Lonmin platinum miners arrested at the time of the Marikana massacre with murder. In an outrageous twist they would be charged with the killing of the 34 colleagues who were gunned down beside them.

A National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson said, “When people attack or confront [the police] and a shooting takes place which results in fatalities… suspects arrested, irrespective of whether they shot police members or the police shot them, are charged with murder.”

The miners’ lawyers are demanding that they should be granted bail. One, Lesego Mmusi, says that two of the accused have suffered gunshot wounds but have received no treatment since their arrest.

The strike continues. Management had threatened to sack all workers who did not return to work on Monday. But only 13 percent of workers went in on Monday, dropping to 8 percent on Tuesday. Once again Lonmin has been forced to back down and negotiate.

The South African government had said it would not get involved in an industrial dispute. But on Wednesday labour minister Mildred Oliphant oversaw talks between striking miners at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana and the management.

Miners are still demanding a rise to 12,500 rand (£940) a month, which would triple many worker’s salaries.

Public meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Tuesday night set up the Marikana Solidarity Campaign. Speakers condemned the police as murderers.

The campaigns will monitor the official investigation in to the police killing of 34 striking miners outside Lonmin’s Marikana mine on 16 August.

Workers had hoped to hold their own independent inquiry, but decided this was not possible as though they could interview witnesses they would not have access to any police forensics.

Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai spoke at the Johannesburg meeting, encouraging people to support the workers who are still out on strike as well as winning justice for those who died.

Lonmin’s share value has plummeted at the strike continues.

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