16 August 2019, Marikana – Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) from various regions braved the blazing sun in their numbers as they gathered on the infamous Marikana Koppie to commemorate the seventh year since the Marikana Massacre. On 16 August 2012 police opened fire, murdering 34 mineworkers who were on strike demanding a R12, 500 living wage from the platinum giant Lonmin, which has since been acquired by Sibanye-Stillwater.
Among the prominent speakers gracing this important event was Fred Arendse, chief executive officer for SSC Group. Arendse said he is always in support of all the good things the Union has done. “We thank AMCU leadership for the things they have done for the families of the mineworkers who were killed in 2012. Seven years later, what was started by the comrades who have fallen will be continued because this fight will never stop until real transformation is realised, “he said.
A Democratic Alliance (DA) representative also came to show support to the victims of the slain mineworkers. “It is shocking that mineworkers were killed for demanding a decent living wage at the hands of a democratic government. As the DA we have urged President Ramaphosa to declare this day the Marikana Memorial Day to honour the victims of the Marikana Massacre. Seven years later, there was no consequences and still no accountability from those who were involved in the Marikana Massacre,” he added.
Local Economic Freedom Fighters leader Pumza Pretorious came to show support to the families of the victims. “As the EFF we are disappointed but not shocked by the fact that the government has not taken any responsibility for the tragedy that took place in 2012. We want to see justice for the Marikana victims,” she said.
One of the survivors, said when this day comes it becomes difficult for him because they have brothers who died on that mountain. “Today their wives are widows because of this government that we thought was going to help people, but they are killed our comrades. We are here because Ramaphosa’s signature is the one that led to the killing of our brothers on this day in 2012. We must never forget where we come from and where we are now as AMCU members. I still remember that day as if it was yesterday. Mathunjwa met us at this mountain and kneeled down in front of us trying to convince us to leave the mountain as our fate was already decided by those in power. His words became reality because indeed our fate was already decided, and we were shot at and our comrades killed like animals by police. We have a lot to thank Mathunjwa for because he gave us a home when those who were supposed to protect us resolved to killing us. Lonmin must still pay the widows for killing their husbands. The ownership of Lonmin being taken over by Sibanye is just another plan to kill more mineworkers because giving us an increase of R300 is an insult and we will not accept it. We are also not fazed by the government’s threat to deregister AMCU because we are ready for anything. They will meet us at this mountain because no mineworker will go to work on that day,” he said.
Nowili Nungu, daughter of one of the slain mineworkers thanked AMCU and President Mathunjwa for all he has done for her and her family. “He has made sure that we are taken care of and I will forever be grateful for all he has done and all he continues to do for my family,” she said.
Mr Yawa, family representative of the late comrade Cebisile Yawa said AMCU members need to soldier on because the Union cannot survive without its members. “We need to be united because there is still a long road ahead. We still want answers from the government and the mine about what happened to our loved ones on that day. We thank Mathunjwa for having a backbone, a man who stands by what he believes in and doesn’t backdown. He promised to build the families houses, and we have seen him do that. Those who have not received their houses, I am confident that they are still coming. AMCU has changed our lives and we are grateful to its leaders,” he said.
Through the AMCU Trust, 15 families of the slain mineworkers have received houses. Today, seven houses were handed to the family members of the slain mineworkers.
Addressing the masses, Mathunjwa said, the reason this country is in this mess is because Cosatu affiliates allow white monopoly capital to rob and kill the people. “My sin was coming to you and walking with you. 16 August 2012 provided a window on the harsh reality of the power of white monopoly capital which is endorsed by the African National Congress (ANC) government. This day in 2012 exposed the ANC for what it really is. It exposed them as being captured by capitalists. It pains me to speak like this about the ANC. I respect the forefathers of the ANC but those who remain are only looking after the white monopoly capitalist. Today’s politicians use their influence to manipulate State apparatus for the sake of protecting the financial interests of Capital,” said Mathunjwa.
Mathunjwa expressed his disdain on the power that was exulted on the day of the Marikana Massacre, saying this show of power by the government was necessary and the bloodshed was intentionally aimed at proving to Capital that the State will protect its assets at all costs. He further said that this day was confirmation of how the State was captured and the blood of comrades was proof of what the State will do to show its obedience to their masters. “We must not be fooled into thinking that the Marikana Massacre was a coincidence or a mere blunder by the State. It was deliberate and it served a very specific purpose. The reality is once a state has been exposed, it becomes susceptible to all sorts of social ills such as service delivery protests and violent clashes between the police and foreign nationals,” he added.
In closing, Mathunjwa thanked AMCU members for making the journey to attend this years’ commemoration of the massacre and for showing their respect to the 34 comrades who died while demonstrating peacefully against the inhumane working conditions they continue to face. “AMCU will continue being the voice of workers as a genuine Union with a genuine mission to achieve economic emancipation in our lifetime,” he concluded.