– An employee killed at Lonmin's Western Platinum operation was on a hit list, the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) revealed on Thursday.
Trouble at the mine started on Friday when around 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on an illegal strike.
At least 10 people, including two police officers, were killed in violent clashes. Num believes that rival union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), instigated the strike by promising workers more money. According to Num Secretary General Frans Baleni, some of his union members and branch leaders at Lonmin were placed on a hit list.
He does not know who compiled the list, but said it originated from a hostile group that was leading the protest. “It was brought to our attention that there was a hit list. One member escaped with his life, but the other one was killed.” On Tuesday, shop steward Isaiah Twala’s body was discovered journalists. Baleni said his name was on the hit list.
Two other Num members were also killed in the violence. Meanwhile, women have now joined the strike to support their husbands who are fighting for higher wages. They took part in the protest for the first time since the violence erupted.
The striking workers allowed journalists to get closer to where they were holding a meeting to decide on a way forward.
Police want the demonstrators to hand over their weapons and disperse. (Edited by Zethu Zulu) EYE WITNESS NEWS
Comments by Sonny :
Could this 'Hit List' have lead to the shootings at Lonmin Mines yesterday?
Even with 'Our Constitution' the victims were outgunned! What happened to "Minimum Force?" OR WAS IT ALSO THROWN OUT OF THE WINDOW LIKE CRIME & CORRUPTION!
Is this the excuse the ANC needed for "Nationalising" our mines?
The conclusion of this 'illegal wage strike' just took one week to suppress!
Cops had to use force - police chief
August 17 2012 at 01:16pm
A policeman gestures in front of some of the dead miners after they were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg. Photo: Reuters
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36 killed at Marikana - NUM
North West - Thirty-four people were killed at a shooting on a hilltop near Lonmin mine at Marikana in Rustenburg, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Friday.
“The total death of the protesters currently stands at 34 with more than 78 injured,” Phiyega told reporters in Rustenburg.
A total of 259 people were arrested and six firearms recovered.
“This is no time for blaming, this is no time for finger-pointing. It is a time for us to mourn...”
“The police had to use force to protect themselves from the... group,” said Phiyega.
The leaders of the Marikana protesters tried to no avail to get a peaceful solution throughout the week, she said.
The police received information from several sources that striking miners in North West would not disperse peacefully, Phiyega said.
"By midday, yesterday (Thursday) we had received information from various sources that the protesters would not end the strike peacefully and they would not leave their gathering point or disarm.
"The options were weighed and the decision taken that the SAPS needed to protect their members adjacent to the protesters," Phiyega told reporters.
Asked who gave the police the order to shoot, she replied: "As commissioner, I gave police the responsibility to execute the task they needed to do."
The shooting happened after the police rolled out barbed wire, Phiyega said.
As the police deployed the barbed wire, a group of protesters tried to outflank them.
"They were met by members of the police who tried to reposte the advance with a water cannon, teargas as well as stun grenades," Phiyega told reporters.
"The attempt was unsuccessful and the police members had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group."
The police were closing in on the group of protesters when "the militant group stormed towards the police, firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons", said Phiyega.
"Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force."
Weapons taken off the dead protesters included firearms stolen from the two police officers who were murdered earlier in the week.
Earlier at the briefing, the police showed video footage of how two policemen were killed by a group of protesters.
The video showed police officials confronting the group, asking for weapons.
The men told the police the weapons would be handed over at the mountain, and the police followed them there.
At the hilltop, the incident turned violent and the two police officers were killed.
Journalists were also showed aerial photographs of the naked men doing a ritual with a sangoma.
The group was described as “pretty militant”. - Sapa
North West relatives gather at hospital
Families and friends continue to arrive at Lonmin's Marikana mine in hope of tracking down people who went missing, after 34 people were killed in a clash with police.
Families and friends continued to arrive at Lonmin's Marikana mine on Friday in the hope of tracking down people who went missing, after 34 people were killed in a clash with police.
"I have been trying to call my brother since yesterday and his phone is off," said Vuyani Feni outside the Andrew Saffy Memorial Hospital, on the grounds of the platinum mine.
"I don't know whether he is alive or dead, or if he is in prison," said Feni.
Thirty four people were killed, 78 injured, and 259 arrested after police fired on a group of protesters near the mine on Thursday afternoon, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said at a media briefing at the mine.
Jacobeth Rapoo said she was at the hospital looking for her partner, who she has a child with.
She left the hospital disappointed because she hadn't heard any news about him.
Feni said they were disappointed with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for not securing higher wages for workers, and in the mine for always "preaching" safety but not protecting them.
He was also disappointed with the police, saying the Lonmin workers felt they were protected when they saw police were present.
Gcobani Tiya, also trying to find a relative since he had arrived at the Rustenburg mine from Bethal after not being able to make contact by phone, complained that he was being sent from pillar to post.
He had been sent to a police station where he saw a large group of people in a truck who had been arrested. Not seeing his relative there, he left as they were led into the police station.
"I wish they would release a statement or a list that has all the deceased's names, or tell us which hospitals our relatives are in, because we are going from pillar to post," said Tiya.
He complained that the mine and police appeared to be giving information to the media, but not to families.
A hospital official said some of the people who were wounded in the shooting on Thursday had been sent to hospitals in Johannesburg, central Rustenburg, and Pretoria.
She said she was not allowed to speak to the media and asked not to be named by journalists who had heard her speaking to the people gathered.
Meanwhile, Marthinus Barnard, who farms in the area, said land owners were "fed up" with the mine.
"People can't approach the mine. The mine shuts them out. And they cannot approach government. Government has been called, [but] they never come," he said.
"All I can say is that the miners have it hard. I understand their frustration."
The people who died were among a group of protesters who went on strike last Friday.
Another 10 people, including police officers and security guards, have died in separate incidents since the unrest began.