Marikana, South Africa – Unrest in South Africa’s mining sector continues unabated.
On Wednesday, thousands took to the streets here in Marikana, in the country’s North West province, demanding a salary increase from Lonmin mines.
Undeterred by the shooting and killing of 34 miners by police on August 16 – and evidently energised by the release of some 270 of their workmates from prison on Monday – miners marched through Marikana to an assembly point adjacent to the Wonderkop hill outside the town to state their demands.
Wielding knobkerries and clubs, and chanting the names of miners who lost their lives on a day that has become known as the “Marikana massacre”, workers shuffled through the streets, under the watchful eye of police and scores of onlookers – many of whom had shut their stores in the town.
Negotiations between management, union leadership and government have continued, with little success, with workers remaining resolute over their demands over a salary hike close to 300 per cent. Strikes also spread to other mines, most notably the Gold Fields mine, close to Johannesburg, raising the alarm that the unrest could spread to mines across the country.
Marikana itself, a mining town close to the city of Rustenburg, has been hit hard by the protracted strike.
Experts say if the strike is not resolved by Friday, Lonmin might have to shed its high cost operations. Already, Lonmin’s shares have lost 15 per cent since the events of August 16.
And if Wednesday’s march is anything to go by, miners are not yet ready to pick up their tools and return to work.