NUM’s concern for members questioned at Marikana commission
The concern of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for its members was questioned in today’s sitting of the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana shooting.
NUM health and safety national secretary Erick Gcilitshana testified that the union took no steps to help those injured and arrested after the shooting in which 34 miners died on August 16 last year.
“Even during the strike it was clear they (workers) didn’t want anything to do with the NUM,” Gcilitshana said at the hearing in Rustenburg, North West. He called the situation a catch-22.
Gcilitshana was the chief negotiator during the Lonmin mineworkers’ strike at Marikana. He is also a Lonmin employee.
Dali Mpofu, for those arrested and injured during the strike, asked him when the union realised some of those injured and arrested were NUM members, and whether it took any steps to assist them.
“I will say no, and will qualify,” Gcilitshana replied.
He said union members with problems usually approached NUM structures for help.
“(But) beyond the strike, nobody came to the NUM and requested assistance as I can recall.”
He was also asked whether any of those in hospital were visited.
“No,” he answered.
Commission chairman Ian Farlam asked Gcilitshana whether the union tried to gather the details of those arrested or injured and help them.
“No,” Gcilitshana answered.
Mpofu asked him if the NUM was a caring union.
“That’s correct,” Gcilitshana answered.
Mpofu then asked if the NUM was at all concerned about its dwindling membership numbers and, if so, its attitude might be the reason.
“There can be many different reasons that people leave a union,” Gcilitshana said.
“There may be (only) one,” Mpofu replied.
The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West, last year.
Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.