Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Tuesday saluted Marikana residents for removing the African National Congress (ANC) in ward 26 of the Madibeng local municipality, which includes the Nkaneng informal settlement and the koppie, where 34 miners were gunned by police in 2012.
“We’re here to say thank you for voting for the EFF, and we’re going to make sure that out people in this ward get houses, water and electricity. We’re going to make sure that the Rustenburg municipality builds roads for our people,” Malema told thousands of people.
The EFF leader made his remarks on the fourth anniversary of the Marikana massacre, commemorated near the koppie in the Nkaneng informal settlement.
“I hear people saying Jerusalem has arrived in Port Elizabeth. Jesus has also arrived in Rustenburg. This municipality, no matter what happens, will not fall in the hands of the ANC. We are eating this elephant called the ANC piece by piece.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said there would never be freedom in South Africa until President Jacob Zuma comes to apologise to the people of Marikana.
“Long live the struggle of Marikana long live. We need a government that will put roads in this place so that the lives of Africans who live in this place will be restored. Until that time, none of us are free. We will continue to fight,” said the DA leader.
“The ANC will forget this day, but we will not forget. Until Jacob Zuma comes here to apologise to the people, and pay back the money, there can be no freedom in South Africa. We are saying compensation (for Marikana murders) must come from the government.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the government must make sure that Lonmin is held responsible for the development of proper facilities for its employers.
Leaders of different political parties were warmly received by the thousands of people at the Marikana commemorations.
Programme director, Amcu national treasurer Jimmy Gama introduced Maimane, Malema, Holomisa and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota to the lively crowd.
The Marikana koppie in the Nkaneng informal settlement near Rustenburg was a hive of activity on Tuesday as thousands of people streamed to commemorate the lives of Lonmin mineworkers gunned down by police in 2012.
Numerous people in the crowd were dressed in Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) green T-shirts while others wore red EFF regalia.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa was scheduled to deliver the keynote address later on Tuesday.
The Nkaneng informal settlement is one of many informal settlements surrounding platinum mines in Rustenburg in North West.
Impoverished mine workers have to live in these shacks if they are to claim a “living out allowance” to beef up their meagre wages.
Since the 2012 tragedy the shacks have been electrified and water tanks have been placed nearby for communal use. Renting a shack costs about R500 a month.
On 10 August 2012, thousands of Lonmin platinum mineworkers downed tools when employers said they could not afford their demands for a “living wage” of R12,500 per month. Employers described the strike as illegal but workers were unrelenting and the strike persisted.
During the lead up to the shooting on August 16, there were reports of intimidation and assault between members of rival unions – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Amcu.
Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed as violence escalated in the area.
Then on August 16, police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers at a koppie near Nkaneng. More than 70 others were injured.
Tuesday marks the fourth anniversary of the Marikana tragedy, with mineworkers continuing to fight for a R12,500 minimum wage and also for August 16 to be declared a public holiday in South Africa.
After the tragedy, Marikana became a burning political issue, with opposition parties blaming the ruling ANC for the worst single act of police brutality since SA became a democracy in 1994.
During the local municipal elections on August 3, the EFF won ward 26 of the Madibeng local municipality, which includes Nkaneng. The EFF also unseated the ANC in ward 32 of Rustenburg.