Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has described the shooting of miners at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in the North West as a wake-up call for everyone
In his speech prepared for delivery in the Eastern Cape Cosatu chief said shocking levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality lie
at the heart of the increasingly violent protests we are seeing in both
workplaces and communities
"It is creating what until recently Cosatu has called ticking bombs.
After the events at Marikana on 16 August 2012, we now must talk of
He therefore called upon South Africans to wait for the judicial commission of inquiry to
investigate and reveal what happened on the day when 34 miners were shot
dead. he was quoted by the SABC
On August 16, police fired on a group of protesting workers from
Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, killing 34 and wounding
78. Another 10 people were killed earlier that week, including two
policemen and two security guards.
We need to know why the police made no attempt to meet the workers before the violence
He said Cosatu was concerned about the police's "skiet en
donner" response. "We must specifically demand answers to allegations
that workers were shot in the back while running away, contradicting the
police statement they faced an armed, frontal attack. "We need to know
why the police made no attempt to meet the workers before the violence
erupted and try to reason with them," he said.
At the same time striking workers needed to move away from taking
dangerous weapons such as pangas and spears to demonstrations.
Vavi said superstitions and elements of backwardness on the part of
workers also needed to be addressed. Before the shooting, protesting
Lonmin mineworkers had reportedly taken muti from a renowned traditional
healer that they believed made them invincible.
Miners who survived the shooting said they were made to believe that
if they used muti by a traditional healer known as Nzabe in the Eastern
Cape, bullets would not harm them. Vavi said trade unions could not
avoid examining what lessons Marikana held for them. "We must ask what
we ourselves could have done better to avert such a tragedy," he said.
Vavi bemoaned the formation of splinter unions and politicians that
promoted them. "They undermine the need for unity and strength. 'United
we stand, divided we fall' is not empty rhetoric, but the key to
transforming workers' lives, and building a better world," he said.
Cosatu and its affiliates had to reassess whether they were operating
in the best way to defend workers and stop breakaway unions, Vavi