Government joins nation in remembering Marikana

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The 16th of August marks the fifth year following the tragic incidents, which occurred at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana between 11 and 16 August 2012. 

Government on Wednesday said it joins the families and friends of those who lost their lives, political parties and various sectors of society, in remembering this day. 

“Government observes this day by reflecting on the challenges facing mine workers and distressed mining communities, and renewing its resolve to improve their working and living conditions. These efforts are underpinned by South Africa’s National Development Plan, which is tackling the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. 

“People living in the vicinity of Marikana have raised concerns about adequate housing, access to water and electricity for household use, as well as access to health services and social benefits. Marikana has informal settlements as a result of inadequate affordable formal housing rental options for mineworkers, who receive a living out allowance from the mines,” said government on Wednesday. 

Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the revitalisation of distressed mining communities, plans have been put in place to address these concerns. 

Government said it remains on track with regard to implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, which was led by retired Judge Ian Farlam. 

Taking care of miners 

Following the recommendation on housing for Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana, a section 93 notice was issued in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, Act 28 of 2002, on 23 September 2016, instructing Lonmin to provide the Department of Mineral Resources with a detailed plan on how the living and housing conditions will be addressed for employees not covered by the existing accommodation. A housing survey has to be conducted to determine homeownership amongst employees and provide a plan to promote homeownership. 

The Marikana Integrated Housing Development Steering Committee was established in 2015 to ensure adequate, appropriate and sustainable human settlements development. The committee has fostered collaboration between government, the private sector, the community and beneficiaries. 

Lonmin donated 50ha of land (860 serviced stands) to the value of R10 million, known as Marikana Extension 2, as a contribution towards the partnership with the North West Provincial Department of Human Settlements. 

The North West Provincial Government allocated a further R462 million toward the project to develop a total of 2 658 housing units (Breaking New Ground and Community Rental Units), of which Lonmin is to receive 70% of the Community Rental Units and the remainder are to benefit community members. 

To date, 522 housing units have been completed. The Rustenburg Local Municipality is facilitating the occupation of 252 Community Rental Units, of which mine employees can apply for 70% of the units. The application process is anticipated to commence by August 2017. 

“We can report that planning for phase two of the housing development in Marikana Extension 5 is already underway and measures 144 hectares in extent, owned by Lonmin. The site has capacity to cater for 5 000 housing units.  Lonmin has commenced with the pre-feasibility study for this development,” said government. 

Lonmin completed the conversion of all their hostels, including 776 family units and 1 908 single apartments by December 2014, as per the Mining Charter requirements. The company has also submitted a new second Social and Labour Plan for the period 2014 until 2018. It undertook to build 4 000 infill apartments, which are not meant to replace homeownership but to provide decent accommodation for employees.   

Phase 1 at the Karee Housing Estate has been completed, comprising 100 family units and 225 bachelor units. The next phase is in progress and should be finalised by the end 2017, comprising another 120 single units and 48 family units. 

Public order policing and victim compensation 

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry recommended that a panel of experts be appointed in Public Order Policing to address issues relating to the policing of assemblies and public protests in South Africa. 

The panel was appointed in April 2016 and was fully constituted by June 2016. In the course of its work, the panel has met with civil society organisations, government departments and others, and will continue to do so as it works to complete its mandate. 

The Ministry of Police will communicate the work of the panel in due course. 

Government said it is considering the claims for compensation by victims and families of the victims of this tragedy in a “conciliatory manner”. About R1.1 billion has been claimed for compensation of injuries and loss of support. 

Progress has been recorded, with R29 544 706 offered to date, without prejudice, to those dependants that are entitled in law to support. About R3.9 million was paid to those who accepted the offer. More offers were made and it is hoped that these will be accepted in order to bring closure to the victims and their families.  

Developing Marikana’s economy 

Planning is underway for infrastructure delivery, including the upgrading of roads, addressing water shortages and electricity in partnership with the private sector. 

An agri-hub will be developed in Marikana, with a focus on vegetable crops and poultry to improve the socio-economic conditions for the community. 

Looking after miners’ health and benefits 

Government is concerned about the challenging working conditions under which mine workers operate, exposing them to risks of occupational diseases such as tuberculosis, silicosis and injuries.  

The Department of Mineral Resources has employed mine accident and occupational diseases prevention mechanisms through improved mine inspections, audits, investigations and monitoring of occupational exposure levels. 

The Departments of Health, Labour and Mineral Resources are also working towards alignment of the mining industry’s occupational health and safety policies and the required legislative changes to facilitate access to compensation and other benefits towards an enhanced social protection system. This will also include the reorganisation of the compensation system and access to benefits for ex and current mineworkers. 

On 15 and 16 August 2017, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation convened a consultative workshop on unpaid pensions and provident funds for ex-mineworkers. The department will in due course provide an update on the outcomes of the consultative workshop. 

“Government continues to engage business, labour and communities to seek sustainable solutions that resolve the concerns of mine workers and distressed mining communities and transform the mining sector to broaden the benefits of our country’s rich mineral wealth,” said government. – SAnews.gov.za

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