Minister happy to join in Marikana commemoration

Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi would be happy to participate in the commemoration of the Marikana shootings.

"We hoped Marikana never happened, but we acknowledge that it was a failure of all stakeholders," he told reporters on the side-lines of the mining lekgotla in Midrand on Wednesday.

"I would be quite happy to be invited to Marikana and join in the commemoration."

Forty-four people were killed during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and over 250 arrested on 16 August 2012.

Saturday will be two years since the shooting.

Last year, government was absent from the one-year commemoration.

Ramatlhodi, who was appointed mineral resources minister in May this year, conceded that the situation at Marikana could have been handled better.

"We will do whatever we can in the long term to [help]."

The mining lekgotla was being attended by different parties in the industry.

This included representatives of different mining companies, unions, government and the Chamber of Mines.

Union representatives of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa were present. However, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, who were invited, did not attend.

Mining communities were reportedly planning on marching to the lekgotla on Wednesday afternoon because they had been excluded from the event.

This was after they were told last year that they would be included.

However, NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said communities were invited to participate in sessions dealing with community issues.