Lonmin concerned about worker safety

Johannesburg - The safety of people in Marikana is a priority, Lonmin platinum mine said on Tuesday night.

"The physical safety of everyone at Marikana remains our overriding priority and must take precedence over all other matters," the company's vice-president of mining, Mark Munroe said in a statement issued from its London offices.

"Embarking on unlawful and unprotected work stoppages puts lives and livelihoods at risk while families also suffer due to the loss of earnings."

Wildcat strike

The company said it was fully committed to achieving a fair and peaceful resolution of the dispute.

He urged all striking employees to return to work, and urged their representatives to continue meeting with management.

"We believe that through respectful dialogue between unions and management we will be able to resolve the issues that have been raised and maintain the excellent momentum that together we have achieved in the last six months."

Lonmin said it had met with unions earlier on Tuesday.

"The leadership of each union has assured Lonmin that they did not call for the work stoppage and therefore do not support it," the company said.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members went on wildcat strike on Tuesday, demanding that the National Union of Mineworkers' offices be shut down. The union said NUM had lost its status as a majority union.

They marched earlier in the day through the dusty streets of Nkaneng from Wonderkop, the hill where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police on 16 August last year.


Lonmin confirmed operations were suspended in the morning because of the strike. NUM regional co-ordinator Mxhasi Sithethi said the situation at the mine was tense.

"People are singing outside our office, demanding the closure of the NUM office."

The strikers marched to a local stadium where they were waving sticks in the direction where police vehicles were parked.

A high number of police officers were deployed to monitor the situation.

Three people, including Amcu regional organiser Mawethu Steven, were gunned down in Marikana at the weekend.

Steven was shot dead at a tavern in Photsaneng on Saturday.

Two brothers, Andile and Ayanda Menzi, were shot dead also in Nkaneng on Saturday.

Munroe said it did not permit or condone the carrying of firearms on company property.

"Anyone found guilty of this violation of company policy will be reported to the police and face disciplinary action," he said.

"We have investigated every allegation of firearms being in union offices and none of our searches have uncovered any weapons. Nevertheless, we have agreed to increase the number of random searches of offices and individuals."