MAC: Mines and Communities

South Africa: Did police deliberately shoot victims of the "Marikana Massacre"?

Published by MAC on 2012-12-27
Source:, Reuters, Dow Jones

ANC ruling party says it won't nationalise mines

Evidence has emerged that police who mowed down striking Lonmin workers in the "Marikana Massacre" last August, deliberately shot their victims, without taking any steps to arrest them. See: "Peace" still eludes South Africa following the Marikana massacre

Meanwhile, the ruling ANC party, although supporting the introduction of a windfall profits tax, has re-affirmed its reliance on coal mining and backing for big business.

The millionaire businessman Cyril Ramaphosa (a partner with Lonmin) has been elected as the ANC's deputy president.

According to Reuters this move "has been interpreted as favourable to investment and the economy, particularly if Ramaphosa is able to push through plans to boost long-term growth".

Lonmin's Marikana mine controversy far from over: survivors allegedly 'shot again'

Cecilia Jamasmie

20 December 2012

Protesting South African miners who survived the initial shooting by police at Lonmin's Marikana mine last August may have been "searched and then shot again," the commission investigating the events leading to the death of 34 miners heard on Thursday.

Police open fire on South Africa miners at Marikana

According to, it has come to light that protesters who were arrested after the shooting were shot by police officers.

What is more, veteran human rights lawyer George Bizos, who represents the families of the Lonmin miners killed, said there would be enough evidence to say the police had planned to shoot miners and not arrest them.

Mmegi online quotes Bizos as saying the police are failing to prove that officers at Marikana were equipped with handcuffs on the day of the shooting and that nobody has explained in a satisfactory way why police officers had watched the crowds congregating without stopping them:

"Do you know of any police operation from anywhere in the world where police attempted to make arrests where thousands of people had gathered? (...) If I may say, it is a crazy plan [to make arrests in a big crowd] and one can say it was impossible to carry out such an operation," Bizos said.

If the plan was to disarm and disperse the people, Bioz told The Mail and Guardian, one could have expected the police to disarm the around 100 people who gathered in the morning rather than wait for 3,500 people to arrive.

The three-member commission of inquiry, known as the Farlam commission, will continue to hold public hearings at the Rustenburg civic centre into the killings in Marikana in the coming days.

South Africa's ANC rejects mine nationalisation but supports windfall tax


19 December 2012

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has rejected calls to nationalise the country's mines but supports a windfall "resource rent" tax on mining firms, according to a draft policy document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

"The state must capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation," the draft of party's economic policies said.

The "resource rental tax" is effectively a windfall levy of 50 percent that will kick in after investors have made a "reasonable return". As such, it is meant to leave marginal or junior operations unaffected.

The ANC also recommended increasing "the supply of coal at competitive prices with the aim of containing energy costs" but did not provide any details of how to achieve that end.

At a five-yearly conference in the central city of Bloemfontein, the party has been at pains to strike a business-friendly note after strident calls this year for radical policy shifts to help solve South Africa's myriad social problems.

The election of millionaire businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC deputy president has been interpreted as favourable to investment and the economy, particularly if Ramaphosa is able to push through plans to boost long-term growth.

The ANC also said monetary policy should stick to its current inflation-targeting regime, squashing calls from the party's union and communist party allies to broaden the central bank's mandate to include jobs and growth.

The party also said the government should consider tax breaks for employers to hire young job-seekers to tackle the chronic unemployment that is fuelling unrest among the millions of blacks who have seen little improvement in their lives since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Harmony Gold Closes South Africa Gold Mine

Dow Jones Newswires

20 December 2012

Harmony Gold Mining Co. said Thursday that it has closed it Kusasalethu mine in South Africa a day earlier than planned for the festive holiday season after violence erupted following the suspension of 578 workers.

Harmony suspended the workers, including some contractors, for participating in an illegal strike at the mine, about 75 kilometers west of Johannesburg, on Dec. 15.

A company spokeswoman said a group of protesters damaged some surface equipment on Thursday morning and fired gunshots at security guards who returned fire with rubber bullets. Five workers were injured in the process, she added.

Police are now at the mine to control the crowd and to ensure the safety of all employees, Harmony said.

"We have made it clear that no violence will be tolerated and to ensure the safety of our employees it has become imperative to close the shaft until the labor issues have been resolved," said Tom Smith, Harmony's Chief Operating Officer.

The Kusasalethu mine produced 181,105 troy ounces of gold and accounted for about 14% of the company's total gold output during the financial year ending June 30, 2012.

The violence at Harmony's mine follows many months of severe labor unrest in South Africa's mining industry which culminated in 34 deaths at platinum producer Lonmin PLC's largest platinum mine over the summer. The labor unrest quickly spread beyond platinum mines to gold mines and then moved into the transportation and automotive sectors as well.

The labor unrest has largely focused on demands for higher wages and better working conditions. It has badly affected the crucial gold and platinum mining industries in South Africa, weakened the country's economy and created serious political problems for President Jacob Zuma, who was re-elected head of the African National Congress this weekend in a victory that virtually ensures he will continue to run Africa's largest economy as president.

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