“Shoot at the target, shoot at the target,” Calitz was heard saying on the video clip, watched by the Farlam Commission on Thursday. It is evident the drama of the Lonmin Platinum Marikana Mine, Rustenburg, South Africa continues to unfold. A video clip recorded from a helicopter during police’s dispersal process of the strike at the mine in August last year, where the death toll rose to more than 34. It is evident now that Calitz, one of the commanders assigned to the Marikana operation, gave the order for the police to shoot the striking miners. Confirmation of him telling the police to get out there and engage implicates the police in this tragedy.
Major General Charl Annandale headed the police’s tactical response team during the wage related strike last year and confirmed the video clip voice of Calitz under cross-examination. Further reports confirm that over 600 police officers engaged in that devastating drama could be withholding information gathered either on their private cell phones or on cameras. Crucial information the commission is trying to retrieve proves to be more difficult than anticipated.
The commission adjourned early for the memorial service of Steven Mawethu, a member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) who in a mafia style shooting was gunned down in Marikana over the weekend.
A threat from the leader of AMCU, the largest mining union in South Africa to bring the economy to a standstill caused the currency to fall against the dollar. Joseph Mathunjwa, head of AMCU is demanding a meeting with President Jacob Zuma regarding the labor crisis. He accused the African National Congress (ANC) of ignoring the violence against its members in the platinum belt at Rustenburg.
The continuation of further disruptions for a struggling economy and serious threats by AMCU will have a detrimental effect on the country. Further industrial action could cause the inflation rate to fluctuate and abandon hopes of another interest rate cut.
It is evident that there is union rivalry and this is a cause for much of the labor dispute at Lonmin Mine, stretching to other industries as well. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has lost support and is no longer the largest mine union. It is possible there are other factors relating to the unions warfare.
AMCU are committed to peace. The union will write another letter to the President requesting a meeting but remain determined to bring the economy to a standstill. This is a distressing factor for the ANC with the forthcoming elections next year The ANC admit it is difficult to make sense of the situation and of course the decline in the NUM membership could hurt their elections next year.
AMCU failed to initiate another strike on Friday and all workers reported for duty without any incidents occurring.
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the Lonmin Mine disaster remains the bloodiest encounter experienced in the South African democratic society when police shot dead 34 innocent miners.
Written by Laura Oneale