Time is running out to hold Lonmin to account for its role in South Africa’s Marikana Massacre
Lonmin is a British-South African mining company; it is the world’s third largest platinum producer and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
One of its mines is in Nkaneng, Marikana, an informal settlement in rural South Africa. On August 16, 2012, 34 miners from the Lonmin platinum mine in were shot and killed by South African police during strike action. The miners were on strike due to low pay and inhumane working and living conditions.
While the killings were carried out by the police, according to a report by the Farlam Commission, an independent commission of inquiry, significant responsibility for the massacre also lies with Lonmin for failing to adequately negotiate with workers, or to protect its employees during the dispute.
Lonmin has obligations to the community that they mine under and around, but they do not comply with these obligations. Since the massacre, living conditions have got worse. Families of those killed are still waiting for compensation and their widows are working at the mine, because they cannot afford not to. Only a handful of the promised 5,500 homes for the 36,000 Lonmin workers have been built. Some 33,000 men, women and children are still living in shacks without access to basic sanitation, water or electricity.
In December 2017, weeks before Lonmin’s AGM was due to take place, the company announced that it was to be taken over by South African mining company Sibanye-Stillwater. This makes Marikana’s call for justice even more urgent.
When Lonmin as an entity ceases to exist, who will be accountable for the Marikana Massacre?
An international alliance of community, solidarity and non-governmental organizations has come together to put pressure on the company. On 15 March, the alliance led by Thumeka Magwangqana from Sikhala Sonke, South African Bishop Johannes Seoka and lawyer Andries Nkome will explain their demands to the company management and shareholders in the annual general meeting (AGM) which will be held in Lincoln Centre, London.
Thumeka Magwangqana lives in Marikana and is travelling from South Africa to present the community’s demands at the Lonmin AGM. She is a civil rights activist. On the same day of the Marikana Massacre, Thumeka co-founded women’s organisation Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together). Since then, the group has campaigned for better working and living conditions of the mining affected communities. She has led this organisation since 2015.
Bishop Johannes Seoka is a retired Anglican Bishop of Pretoria and chairperson of the Bench Marks Foundation, as well as an official representative of the Lonmin mine workers. He is travelling from South Africa to present the workers’ demands at the Lonmin AGM.
Andries Nkome was the first attorney to arrive and offer legal services for free to the 279 miners arrested and locked up in a shaft then sent to different police stations across the region. He argued for bail, which was refused.
Before the AGM, there will be a demonstration, co-organised by Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign and Decolonising Environmentalism.
The South-African/European Campaign Network Plough Back the Fruits, Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany and London Mining Network are participating in and supporting this and other events in the Marikana Solidarity Week.
Join us on 15 March, 9.30am at Lincoln Centre, London. A samba band will be starting us off so the shareholders can hear us before we hear from Thumeka, Bishop Jo and Andries and have a quieter time of contemplation as we remember those who died.
Bring placards, instruments and friends.
Please also join us on the evening of 15th March for an event where we hear from Thumeka, Bishop Jo and Andries and explore the role of the City of London in the Marikana Massacre: London and the Marikana Massacre: From the frontlines to the center of Extractive Imperialism, 7pm at the Karibu Centre, 7 Gresham Road, Brixton SW2 1EF (new venue)
Directions: coming out of Brixton tube station, turn right heading north on Brixton Road. At the fourth road on the right there is a five way junction, with Brixton Police Station to the right. At the junction the main road on the right is Gresham Road. The Karibu Centre is the fourth building on the left heading east on Gresham Road.