Statement by the Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association on the Marikana Massacre

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The Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association strongly condemns the silent imperialist code that, ‘even in the Constitutional democratic South Africa, MINERALS MUST BE LOOTED, BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY, AT THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE SPEED, AND THE LOWEST POSSIBLE COST’.

The Lonmin’s Marikana Massacre is no different from the recent Impala Platinum uprising that took place near Luka village. In both uprisings, a number of poor souls and families lost their lives under brutal and dubious security measures. Heavily armed mine security forces opening fire with automatic rifles at demonstrators carrying only stones and knobkerries.

It is argued that the Union conflicts are engineered by the mining companies as they seek to retrench mineworkers in light of the falling (platinum) mineral prices, but more in their quest for mechanization.

A lot of noise was made in the recent past about Rustenburg being the fastest growing town in Africa. The rural villages of Chaneng and Luka, and the semi-urban Marikana fall within the jurisdiction of the Rustenburg Local Municipality. The former two about 30km west of the town of Rustenburg and the latter 40km in the east. Chaneng and Luka forms part of the so called Royal Bafokeng Nation, while Marikana is on state land, a stone throw away from Photsaneng/Bleskop village. The villages have been on the spotlight against the mining genocide taking place in the area.

Since the late 20thcentury, with the platinum mineral fetching high unprecedented market prices at $2000 an ounce, the big four mining companies in the area (Anglo Platinum, Impala, Lonmin and Aquarius) embarked on expansion plans that drove the mining town of Rustenburg into a daze of growth. The urban property market in Rustenburg is believed to be one of the most expensive in the country due to the population induced increase in demand.

On the back of high metal prices, high national unemployment levels, abundant migrant labour, the mining companies were happy to employ a high number of mineworkers (many subcontracted) at very low wages.

In terms of the mines’ social labour plans, the mines are not required to provide social amenities for the subcontracted labour. The mines submit social labour plans that caters only for a few employees on their payrolls to the Department of Mineral Resources, earning them renewed mining licenses.

When the mines retrench, the social consequences are clear for both the Municipalities and the mine hosting rural landlords. One such consequence is the increased threat of crime and violence. Tenants, backyard dwellers are soon to default and renege on their services and tenancy agreements.

To maintain the chaotic state within the mining complex, the mining companies would please and co-opt, in more ways than one, the Ministers (of Water and Environmental Affairs, Police, Mineral Resources, Local Government), the Municipality, the traditional leaders and the Unions.  The mines would for instance make lucrative long term agreements with the Municipalities for their rates and taxes. They would co-opt the Unions by paying for the Unions’ administrative costs. They would pollute the security system, sponsoring local police stations with anything from police vehicles to luncheons.

Nothing has been done about the notorious covert military operations around mine hosting communities, and the active role of the State police in it. Sanctioned by the Bafokeng chief Molotlegi, and led by Zietsman, a former Koevoet operative, the well funded Bafokeng tribal police and the very same Potchefstroom-based riot Police that shot the Marikana demonstrators, have been terrorizing the Bafokeng communities of Luka, Chaneng, Thekwana, Photsaneng and Lefaragatlhe, suppressing dissent against mines-instigated human rights injustices taking place within the Bafokeng area.

The Marikana Massacre is simply a State cover-up to the earlier killings by the Lonmin contracted mine security company. The same cover-up was extended for Impala Mine and Bafokeng security companies when Premier Thandi Modise addressed the retrenched employees. Nothing was said about the precedent setting Impala Mine’s security company shootings. We must never forget about the cover-up in Limpopo and Mpumalanga where the police fired at rural communities after Anglo Platinum blew up the communities’ ancestral graves and chased them off their ploughing fields.

With government turning a blind eye to corruption, as implied by its blatant denial of responsibility for the Lonmin shootings, and maladministration in traditional councils such as the Bafokeng, it is a clean scam for both the mines and Government. We contend that this well guarded, shameful scam, is rooted and coded in the CODESA sunset clauses on land and mining. The sunset clauses were informed by the World Bank’s 1992 guidelines on land and mining to the new democratic South African State. We contend further that the action by the State Police at Marikana is a clear indication of the nature and form of the alliance between the State and the mines in the envisaged mining reforms in South Africa.

The Marikana Massacre shows the kind of danger that civil rights organizations are faced with in the Rustenburg area. Both the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission have regrettably been indifferent and silent to the human rights atrocities taking place in the area. The two have on many occasions been summoned, without success, to the aid of the communities in the area.

As a strategy for indirect rule, a number of independent traditional villages that bought the land on which mining takes place were forced by the former colonial-apartheid regimes to subscribe to the Bafokeng chieftaincy. The Bafokeng chief and the mines do not care about the negative development on the land they know they do not own, but have Government-sanctioned use and control over. The communities, represented by the Land Buyers’ Association, asserts that as the rightful land owners, they would care to observe sustainable control and use of their natural environment, and respect for all life.

The Association reiterates its call for the State to provide adequate legislative protections to mine hosting communities.

The Association further calls on all legal practitioners and their Lawyers’ Associations, the peace loving citizens of this country, rich and poor, to come out in numbers, wherever they are, to give all support, in pursuit of permanent peace and justice in the directly affected mine-hosting communities in South Africa.

Issued by Thusi Rapoo (Secretary) or at 073 443 5699. . August 2012.

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