There was a sense of fear of victimisation and intimidation among Lonmin mineworkers despite a jovial commemoration to mark the sixth year since the brutal killings of Marikana miners in August 2012.
By 9am mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members, clad in their green union T-shirts, had started to trickle toward the koppie to commemorate the Marikana massacre, where 44 people, including two police officers and security guards, were killed.
A total of 34 miners were gunned down by police.
The workers came in numbers, skipping their work shift as they were not given the day off, to attend the Amcu commemoration.
However, some of the massacre survivors and miners who were present on the day, refused to speak to the media.
“They are scared to speak out because they are scared of the government. They worry if they say something, it could affect their chances of getting compensation,” one, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Citizen.
Many of the survivors of that fateful day will never be able to work again, due to the injuries they have suffered, said Marikana and land rights activist Napoleon Webster.
“The ones who survived are struggling. They can’t get employment because some of them are paralysed and find it challenging to find jobs. Lonmin and President Cyril Ramaphosa should compensate them so we can find closure and heal,” he said.
Six years after the tragic police attack, life on the mine has slightly improved, even though wages were an ongoing concern, a 58-year-old miner said.
The Mahikeng man had just started working at the mine when the strike happened in 2012.
“Our problems are not so much. Our salaries and wages are obviously not satisfactory and our union has been speaking to the mine management, but they are not budging. However, some rules and policies are much better. I can’t afford to lose this job because I am the breadwinner and have four children,” he said.
The day was filled with dance, singing and performances from traditional artists and local musicians, while many came with drinks to drown the memory.
A young mineworker from the Eastern Cape said he would always remember the day as his uncle was one of those attacked by police.
“He is fine now. But it is important to remember that our brothers and fathers died here. I had family that worked here and it was pure luck that they survived.”