Marikana fund gets R2m boost from Amcu

Rustenburg - A trust fund has been established to help the families of slain Marikana mineworkers, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said on Saturday.

"Amcu donated R2m to start the fund which will help to build houses for widows and families of slain mineworkers," union leader Joseph Mathunjwa said holding a dummy cheque.

"This [pointing at the cheque] is to teach the government how to lead."

A crowd of about 12 000 responded by clapping hands, ululating and whistling.

He said Amcu would also donate R12 500 to each widow of the dead mineworkers.

"Your husbands and children died for R12 500."

Some of the widows who were seated on the stage, bowed their heads and cried when the announcement was made. He said the trust fund would be the only account where donation could be made for families of slain mineworkers.

"There will be no other account. Anyone doing anything on behalf of Marikana families must come to us. We want the families to benefit from their blood," he said.

Mathunjwa told the crowd he regarded himself as a failure and not a hero for he failed to convince mineworkers to disperse on 16 August 2012.

"I regard myself as a failure. I failed to save the lives of our fellow mineworkers," he added.

Mathunjwa said 16 August was a day in which no one was prepared to talk to him, except for mineworkers.

"The government, the police and Lonmin shut their doors on me, they were not prepared to talk to me."

He said mineworkers leaders pleaded with him to leave promising that they would never attack the police and would wait for Lonmin management to come to them at the koppie with a response to their demands.

Rock drill operators at Lonmin refused to be represented by the National Union of Mineworkers, a dominant trade union at the time, and spearhead a wildcat strike demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Workers armed with homemade spears, knobkerries and pangas gathered at the koppie in Nkaneng informal settlement and refused to descend until Lonmin management answered their demands.

Forty-four people were killed during the strike, 34 mineworkers were killed when police opened fire on them apparently attempting to disarm and disperse them on 16 August 2012.

Ten including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards were killed in the preceding week.

Mathunjwa said following the recent five month-long strike in the platinum sector, most of the mineworkers would be paid R12 500 by the end of the three year wage agreement.

"We will never betray the spirits of our slain brothers," he said.