Miners return to hilltop
20 August 2012 | STEVEN TAU and SAPA
JOHANNESBURG - As they did so 260 of their colleagues appeared in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate’s Court on charges of public violence.
Magistrate Esau Bodigelo postponed the matter to August 27 for further investigation, with all the miners remaining in custody.
Prosecutor Bafana Tlahgwane asked for a seven-day postponement, saying the ongoing investigations were wide and complex. The investigation would allow the State to unravel what happened at the mine. Additional charges could be brought later.
Defence lawyer Andries Kome argued the rights of the mineworkers had been infringed, as any arrested person was supposed to be brought to court within 48 hours.
As police trucks transporting the mineworkers made their way into the court premises, escorted by police cars, the women started praying, some weeping hysterically. The men inside sang.
Former ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu was in court for the matter.
Back on the hilltop, prayers were led by African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe and other religious leaders. “I pray for peace, wisdom and reconciliation.
Let peace come out of this,” said Meshoe. Several policemen in armoured vehicles kept watch.
Leaders from various opposition parties paid a visit, including United Democratic Movement leader, Bantu Holomisa and his Congress of the People counterpart, Mosioua Lekota.
Former Congress of SA Trade Union president Willie Madisha also arrived. He said he was not entirely satisfied with the Presidential Commission of Inquiry announced by President Jacob Zuma.
“We will have the commission, then what? Management of the mines also needs to be more proactive in making sure the impasse between them and the workers is resolved amicably. It is indeed sad that so many people have died while fighting for better wages.”
King Ndamase Ndamase and his delegation from Pondoland in the Eastern Cape were greeted with ululation upon their arrival.
In his brief address to the crowd, seated a few metres from the notorious Wonderkop hilltop, Ndamase called for calm to be restored to the area, saying it was time for leaders to sit down and talk with the employer.
Speaking for his colleagues, mineworker Zolisa Bodlani said: “We want to finish what our fallen heroes fought and died for, therefore we will not return to work until Lonmin comes to us with the R12 500 we are demanding.
“We work very hard underground and what the employer is only concerned about is to make profit at the end of the month, while we slave away.”
Meanwhile the employer confirmed that work at its Marikana operations resumed yesterday as significant numbers of employees returned to work.
Lonmin had issued an ultimatum affecting 3 000 rock drill operators and assistant rock drill operators, who have been illegally on strike since August 10, to return to work today or face potential disciplinary action.
According to the company almost one third of the 28 000 strong workforce reported for their morning shift duties yesterday.
The employer has given the other workers who are still on strike, until 7am today to return to work.
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