NEHAWU is deeply shocked and angered ,by the slaughter of an estimated 34 workers by the police at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Rustenburg yesterday. We offer our deepest condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones and wish all the injured a speedy recovery. This atrocious and senseless killing of workers is deplorable and unnecessary and we call on the President of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma and the National Police Commissioner, General Ria Piyega to hold a Commission of enquiry to investigate this tragedy.
Our union feels that Lonmin should be made to account for this tragedy and we also demand an investigation on the role of labour brokers in this whole process. The remuneration and working conditions of miners across the country are appalling to say the least and these mining companies have been allowed to get away with murder literary for far too long. This tragedy comes hot on the heels of another tragedy that happened at Implats a couple of months ago.
We are saddened to see the disunity among the workers at a time when unity is needed. Our union urges unions to sit down and resolve their differences without using violence.
This tragedy has also put on the spotlight again, the capacity of our police to deal with demonstrations and the militarisation of the service. Our police service has adopted and perfected the apartheid tactics and the militarisation of the service has encouraged the use of force to resolve disputes and conflicts. A question needs to be asked about the negotiating skills of the police and their inadequate supervision.
The union demands that all police officers who deal with protests be taught civil and disciplined ways of controlling and managing the protestors because we cannot afford to have a police force that is slaughtering protestors in the new dispensation.
The union also feels that the time has arrived to discuss the tactics that are used during demonstrations. The violent nature of our protests is intolerable and unsustainable.