President Jacob Zuma on Friday cut his trip to Mozambique short to visit Lonmin’s Marikana mine after 34 workers were killed on Thursday. Just before 6pm Zuma was briefed by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, National Police Commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega and Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Minister of Police.
They were meeting at the Lizard Lounge Conference Centre.
Lonmin board member Cyril Ramaphosa and Mac Maharaj were also spotted.
On Thursday President Jacob Zuma expressed his shock and dismay at the massacre at Lonmin’s Marikana mine and instructed the police to bring the situation under control.
He arrived is due to visit the mine at 13h00 this afternoon.
Zuma released a statement only hours after Reuters released video footage showing police officers shooting wildly with automatic weapons at a group of protesters running towards them.
The official death toll now stands at 34.
Just as a matter of comparison, a total of 69 people died in the 1960 Sharpville massacre.
In the e-mailed statement, Zuma said he was “shocked and dismayed” at the senseless violence. “We call upon the labour movement and business to work with government to arrest the situation before it deteriorates any further.”
He also instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of the violence to book.
Police spokesperson captain Dennis Adriao did not answer his cellphone or respond to SMS requests last night to confirm the death toll. His voicemail was also full.
On Friday the Executive Director of the IPID Francois Beukman and his team from national office said it will be getting a briefing from the investigation team deployed at Marikana, thereafter he will visit the scene. “The IPID has sent a team of investigators from its North West and Gauteng office – this team has been working around the clock since the shooting occurred. The IPID is investigating in terms of its mandate as set out in section 28 of the IPID Act, No. 1 of 2011.”
The investigation will seek to establish if the police action was proportional to the threat that posed by the miners. It is still early in the investigation to establish the real facts around this tragedy.
The investigators are working with the criminal record centre and ballistics experts. The focus is on collecting all the relevant evidence to assist in the investigation.
The dramatic Reuters video footage and photos of the bodies quickly found their way onto social networks. The violence and Zuma’s silence was widely condemned. All the main political parties also issued statements following the release of the video and called for a swift end to the violence and an urgent investigation.
Zwelinzima Vavi secretary general of Cosatu came out fighting and claimed in an ENews Channel interview that Julius Malema, former ANC Youth League leader and Themba Godi, president of the African People’s Convention, have both been at Marikana. He said this “has not helped”.
Earlier, Vavi claimed in a statement that the violence was being orchestrated. “Broadly we believe there is an orchestration, a planned violence, because the violence that people are seeing today has been going on since January…Scores of people have been killed and systematically targeted. Someone is behind it. We can’t put our finger on it, but someone is orchestrating that violence.” Neither Malema nor Godi could be reached for comment on
Thursday night. Police Minister spokesperson Zweli Mnisi defended the police’s conduct. According to Sapa, Mnisi asked what should police do in such situations when the people they are facing are armed and criminals? “We had a situation where people who were armed to the teeth, attacked and killed others even police officers and, for the record, one of the firearms used was that of our deceased police officer.”
Lonmin said the company no longer sees the matter as a labour dispute, but a public order matter under the jurisdiction of the police. Lonmin Chairman Roger Phillimore said in a statement: “We are treating the developments around police operations this afternoon with the utmost seriousness. The police have been in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend. He deplored the loss of life.
Phillimore assumed the day-to-day duties of CEO Ian Farmer, who was hospitalized after being diagnosed with a serious illness.