South Africa

Union wants Ramaphosa to meet Marikana widows

THE Association of Mining and Construction Workers Union (Amcu) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to meet the widows of the miners, who died in the Marikana massacre, in 2012.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said some of the living conditions of the widows were deplorable, while some had taken their husbands’ placesworking at the mines.

Mathunjwa said the widows had been traumatised by the massacre. He said he had written a letter to President Ramaphosa, but Ramaphosa had not responded.

Around 34 miners died in Marikana, on August 16, 2012, after an instruction by Ramaphosa – then a non-executive director of mining company Lonmin – for officials to take “concomitant action” during a wage strike at the mine.

“Can you imagine going underground in that cage full of males, going down at night, 3am and 4am, and you still have to take care of children? This is heartbreaking,” said Mathunjwa.

Mathunjwa said Ramaphosa had been invited to the Marikana memorials, but had never showed up. Mathunjwa said he was disappointed in the President’s behaviour.

“We have written to him and we placed some demands of those who were injured, but only the widows and the majority of the workers were acknowledged by the President. But there was no meeting – we asked for an audience, but there was nothing,” said Mathunjwa.

Mathunjwa said the union thought Ramaphosa would be forthcoming because of his background in trade unionism.

“We thought it was a good opportunity for him to close the chapter and move us into a stage of healing, but I was wrong … maybe he is still thinking of it,” said Mathunjwa.

Meanwhile, several SAPS members were due to appear at the North West High Court yesterday, in connection with the murder of several Marikana miners.

The president of the African Transformation Movement Vuyo Zungula said police officials were being “thrown under the bus”.

“Why are they going for people who are at the bottom? It’s a problem for us. These cops have families and they were carrying out instructions. The President and others need to be charged too,” said Zungula.

Zungula said the Farlam Commission of Inquiry had failed to deal with the real reason for the deaths of the Marikana miners.

“The real issue is the political leadership of the country, the politically connected who can ask junior officials to act, knowing very well that they will be exempted from facing justice. We have a problem – Ramaphosa and white capital are getting away with it,” said Zungula.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale was not available for comment at the time of publication.

THE STAR

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