Lonmin massacre will leave scars: Lekota
The shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine, in North West, will leave indelible scars that will not quickly heal, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota said on Tuesday.
"The tragedy was preventable, if only proactive and even-handed measures had been implemented by all parties," he told the National Assembly during a special debate on the shooting.
Police opened fire on a group of striking workers on Thursday, killing 34 of them and wounding 78. Another 260 were arrested and charged with public violence.
Lekota said the judicial commission of inquiry announced last week should lay bare the whole truth, and that nothing less would do.
"The families of the two policemen and the two security guards who were killed, as well as those of the miners who lost loved ones, need to know the whole truth of what has really been happening," he said.
"The key question is how many miners were armed with guns requiring SA Police Service [SAPS] members to use semi-automatic rifles against them? We need to know this."
The shooting at Marikana was a dismal failure of leadership and of accountability on the part of the African National Congress. That was where the central focus should lie, Lekota said.
Inkatha Freedom Party spokesman on police Velaphi Ndlovu said everyone involved in the tragedy was a victim, and that mine management should take the most blame.
It had failed to realise that workers wanted it to deal with issues that affected them every minute of the day, and had failed to fully engage workers.
"How dare the employer give an ultimatum to the workers to return to work when they are still in mourning, the injured in hospital and others awaiting trial?"
The police were at fault because they had been used by mine management to solve the mine's problems instead of protecting both sides.
"I hope that the workers have now learned that negotiation is the key to success," Ndlovu said.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the question in a situation such as Marikana was at what stage should maximum force be used?
"In my experience, the better the police force is trained, the less force is necessary to contain a difficult situation like this," he said.
No role-player could be singled out. All shared the guilt.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had erred in the way they conducted their power struggle.
Mulder claimed the employer had colluded with the established unions, like the NUM, to keep Amcu out and leave minority unions with no rights.
The police allowed the situation to develop into such an uncontrollable state, and union leaders incited violence.
Mulder said the government had failed to keep unions accountable and ensure they exercised their power without intimidation and without violence as a bargaining tool.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said events such as the Marikana shooting were here to stay, unless senior policing levels became more professional.
"Perhaps, it is time for this House to review the mechanism of civilian oversight in SAPS. Should we not confine civilian oversight to the office of the minister and let experienced police personnel run SAPS?"
Another area of concern was the proximity of certain trade unions to the ANC and the deployments of senior individuals to the private sector.
This had compromised the Lonmin Mine workers.
"For example, just a few hours before the Marikana shoot-out, NUM, the police and Lonmin reportedly held a meeting to discuss the situation without involving Amcu," Holomisa said.