Six Marikana mining communities in the North West have filed papers at the Constitutional Court seeking to reverse the R5 billion sale of Lonmin Platinum Mine.

On Friday thousands of mineworkers will be commemorating the killing of 34 people at the infamous koppie, seven years ago.

The world’s third-largest platinum producer Lonmin merged with Sibanye-Stillwater in June 2019.

Communities say they were excluded from this deal.

Longest strike

Lonmin is infamous for the country’s longest workers’ strike that ended in the death of 34 miners –  shot and killed by police in August 2012.

In the preceding days, ten others were killed, including two security guards and two police officers.

In 2017 – four years after a record five-month wage strike – Lonmin recorded a 40% loss. 13 000 jobs were shed and 5 of 11 shafts in Rustenburg closed.

Mining giant, Sibanye dangled a R5.4 billion takeover carrot.

Sibanye’s Spokesperson James Wellste says, “We went through all the regulatory requirements, and we went through three rounds of competition commission, Competition Tribunal, then Appeal process. Because AMCU at that point were appealing.”

This spelled the end of Lonmin. But also the beginning of a feud with the custodians of the land, they dug their riches from.

Communities maintain the deal was unlawful.

Brain Khanyile, one of the lawyers representing the communities, says, “We approached the Constitutional Court. We are challenging the decision, and it actually undermines certain aspects and rights of the communities that fall under greater Marikana.”

For workers, the merger threatens job security.

AMCU’s president Joseph Mathunjwa says, “We spent millions to oppose the merger, because we knew this was not a genuine merger. But it was a politically-charged murder. How can the Competition Commission agree a merger which will result in more than 13 000 job losses.”

Sibanye’s promised to uphold social labour agreements and upliftment initiatives. But its 2019 wage increment offer of R300, laid the groundwork for another strike.

Mathunjwa insists, “They are up for war. They are provoking us. They want to push us right to the stream.”

The Constitutional Court is yet to indicate whether it will hear the case.