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Commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Marikana massacre

After six years of avoiding its responsibility for the Marikana Massacre, London-based mining corporation Lonmin has decided to cut and run from its platinum mining operation in South Africa by preparing to sell to Sibanye-Stillwater.

 

Andy Higginbottom*

 

Having made vast profits from extraction and exploitation since its founding under imperialist and white supremacist Cecil Rhodes, Lonmin has pledged a ‘covenant’ to repay the banks that financed their violence against people and nature.

We at Marikana Solidarity Collective support the demands of women’s organisation Sikhala Sonke and victims’ representatives that Lonmin must fulfil a social covenant with the community instead.

Six years on… still no justice!

On 16th August 2012, the South African Police shot 34 platinum miners who were on strike for better wages and living and working conditions, while they were trying to disperse. Ten people had died before the massacre.

The government set up the Farlam Inquiry which cost the people of South Africa R153 million. But it failed not only to ask the right questions—who gave the order to issue guns to the police? Who ordered them to shoot to kill?—but also to address the material conditions that give rise to the community’s resistance.

The toxic collusion between Lonmin, the South African police and the ANC government comes from the top: as a Lonmin director at the time, now President, Cyril Ramaphosa called the labour dispute a ‘dastardly criminal act’ requiring ‘concomitant action,’ supporting a position which—with 800 police already on the ground in Marikana—would inevitably lead to violence.

Although the evidence that the police killed and injured the miners is clear, 19 strikers were charged with murder, and many more remain in prison for other offences. There has been no compensation for the victims’ families or for the injured mineworkers.

Formerly a subsidiary of Lonrho—the notorious London Rhodesia company which even former Conservative prime minister Ted Heath called ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ because of its corrupt profiteering—Lonmin preserves its colonial legacy as the corporate face of racial capitalism. Principal investors in Lonmin’s exploitation of African labour and nature are London-based asset management funds Investec, Majedie, Schroders, Standard Life and Legal & General who own 44% of the corporation. A consortium of banks including Lloyds, HSBC and RBS are its biggest lenders.

Across South Africa/Azania—from Sikhala Sonke in Marikana to the Amadiba Crisis Committee in Xolobeni—the struggle against the environmental devastation and health and social consequences of mining continues. As they are met with repression and violence, we stand in solidarity with them against the UK banks and corporations with blood on their hands

 Social movements demand that Lonmin:

  • Apologise to the South African nation and to the victims of the Massacre (families of the deceased, injured and arrested).
  • Pay reparations to the affected parties, including all dependents of the deceased mineworkers and the injured and arrested workers who survived the Massacre. This must also cover all psychological damage and/or emotional trauma for those who witnessed the arrests, injuries and deaths that took place during the massacre.
  • Join calls to release the miners in prison as a result of the massacre and to prosecute the police officers and intellectual authors of the Massacre.
  • Consult with all affected parties regarding the proposed commemorative monument.
  • Take responsibility for the environmental destruction at Marikana and ensure that people in the communities around the mine have sufficient water, proper sanitation and electricity.
  • Comply with the obligations of its Social and Labour Plan, the development of 2,638 (rental and ownership) accommodation units and 6,000 apartments that are genuinely affordable for mineworkers and the community, within the stipulated time-frames.
  • Add its voice to those calling to review the Farlam Commission and finance the legal process.
  • Stop using the excuse that it is now insolvent: it has made huge profits over the years.
Memorial service for Lonmin mine workers in Marikana. Photo GovernmentZA. Flickr bit.ly/2LH3TXs

It must tell us what it has done with the money appropriated in 2011-12.

If Lonmin is sold to Sibanye-Stillwater, a company under which 21 miners have lost their lives in fatal accidents this year, the new owner must:

  • Take responsibility for the massacre and reparations, for providing housing and livelihoods and the other promises made.
  • Guarantee livelihoods for the workers.
  • Set aside money in the purchase price to assist with financing sustainable development projects, with independent problem-solving mechanisms and counselling.

A social covenant with specific time-frames must be made between the company and the entire mining community, not just with the investors.

Dates and time: Monday 13th August: meet 12 noon St Pauls underground station, for protest at London finance houses that profit from violence

Thursday 16th August 16.00 – 18.00. Commemorating the sixth Anniversary of the Marikana massacre. South Africa House, Trafalgar Square. Bring Yellow Flowers

*Andy Higginbottom: Marikana Solidarity Collective. Email: mambushlives@gmail.com

(Photos: Marikana Solidarity Collective)

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