Conditions for mineworkers since the Marikana tragedy have not improved - CNBC Africa

Conditions for mineworkers since the Marikana tragedy have not improved


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“Nothing has changed here since the 16th August last year,” Lucky Lebeko, a miner at the platinum mining company, Lonmin told CNBC Africa on Friday.

Lebeko was one of the miners that took part in the Marikana miners’ strike last year at the Lonmin mines in Rustenburg, South Africa. The event gathered international attention following a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as well as the mineworkers.

44 people were killed during the strike, the majority of whom were killed on the 16 August 2013, 78 people also were injured.

“We were waiting to hear from the management about our wage increase but little did we know that we were waiting to be killed by the police,” said Siphiwe Booi, a rock driller at Lonmin mines.

The miners have stated that conditions for them have not changed since. The tragedy also caused the fundamentals of the mining industry to change dramatically.

“There is a very real concern amongst foreign investors about labour in South Africa. I think if a deliberative, high profile effort was seen from government leadership, foreign investors would be greatly comforted but I really don’t think they've seen that" explained Andrew Levy, a Labour Analyst.

Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, the Chief Executive Officer of the gold mining company, Anglo Gold Ashanti, feels that since the tragedy, a great amount of trust that once existed amongst the mining industry players has been broken.

 "As an industry we thought we were very well engaged with our respective employees and the unions. Certainly what has happened last year is that there has been a break down in trust, I think the industry and all stakeholders will need to start rebuilding that trust," he added.

The mining industry and its workers are not the only ones that are suffering, others that were involved in the tragedy are also trying to recover.

Lizy Maubane is the sister of the late warrant officer Tsietsi Monene who was one of the two police officers that were hacked to death by allegedly striking mineworkers a few days before the Marikana killings.

Maubane is amongst those that are waiting for the Marikana Commission of inquiry to assist them in seeking justice for their losses.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry was appointed by South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma in 2012 to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin mine in Marikana.

“We really need closure to know what happens so that we can go on with our lives" said Maubane.

Last Wednesday marked the 114th session of the Commission of Inquiry and yet not much has been achieved. Members of the commission have stated that funding remains the biggest challenge as many of the mineworker’s families wish to be compensated for their losses.

“The critical issue for the judge to resolve is the issue around the delays that are affecting the work of the commission negatively.  There are issues around funding for those representing the injured and deceased miners,” explained Tshepo Mahlangu, spokesperson for the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

He added that at the latest seating of the commission, representatives announced that they would be withdrawing their participation from the commission until the issue of funding has been resolved.

Dail Mpofu, an advocate representing the families of the victims of the Marikana tragedy, believes that the government should be paying.

"We have taken the matter to the constitutional court and await their decision on whether we are right or wrong in that it is an obligation of the state to assist these people who are poor and not able to assist themselves" said Mpofu.

Currently plans are being made to build a fence around the Marikana hill where the miners were shot as a tribute to those who lost their lives.