“Let’s hope there is no new violence”, said to MISNA Monsignor Kevin Dowling, Bishop of Rustenburg. Around 2,000 miners, many armed with tire irons and sticks, reached the Marikana platinum mine, demanding a total suspension of production.
There is a standoff between hundreds of policemen and the miners outside the mine gallery entrance 3. The Lonmin mining company, which holds the concession on the Marikana mine, has so far rejected the demand of the miners.
According to the Bishop, the demonstration took off this morning from another mine run by the company a few kilometers away. “This situation is impeding negotiations from resuming between the Lonmin and unions today in Rustenburg: the managers say that salary increases cannot be negotiated until order is restored”, added Monsignor Dowling.
The Marikana mine, situated north-west of Johannesburg, was theatre to the worst massacre in post-apartheid South Africa. On August 16 the police opened fire against a group of striking miners killing 34. Since then, many of the mine’s galleries remained closed and a mere 5% of miners are working. The massacre heightened social tension in a country, which 18 years from the end of the segregationist regime remains divided between rich and poor.