Sibanye-Stillwater hopes to create over 4 000 jobs in Marikana in bid to mend fences

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Platinum mining giant, Sibanye-Stillwater, has announced a R4 billion investment to refurbish one of the shafts acquired from Lonmin Platinum in Marikana, in the North West. The operation is set to create over 4 000 jobs.

Sibanye says it is making efforts to remedy the relationship the mine has with the surrounding communities following the 2012 Marikana massacre.

The mining company has come up with a three-step plan, called the Marikana Renewal Programme, to honour those who lost their loved ones nearly nine years ago. This includes building houses for the widows and paying their children’s study fees.

Marikana Massacre victims:

“The first step in being able to do this was ensuring our sustainability of the Marikana operations, which has now been achieved with the operations restored to profitability.

Our recently announced commitment to invest R4 billion in the K4 project, creating 4 400 direct jobs over an extended future will have a major impact on the local economy and, again very importantly, ensure sustainability,” says CEO Neal Froneman.

Sibanye-Stillwater acquired the mining operations from Lonmin.

‘Time for closure’

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, who is a patron of the Marikana Renewal Programme, says it is time to find closure.

“Find partners, find them near you and far, find people who you agree with, and importantly, those you disagree with. It will be tough at times, it will involve working through disagreement, trauma and even aggression, but our survival depends on genuinely wanting to be part of the healing and building of our country. And, it must be a country where not a single person will suffer again in a way that led to Marikana,” says Makgoba.

Aisha Fundi lost her husband who was a security guard at Lonmin, in the days prior to the 16 August Marikana massacre. She says it’s time to re-unite.

“If we all come together and acknowledge that whatever happened in Marikana in 2012 was wrong and we want to unite and we start again. Restart the process again, sit down amicably and discuss what the future is for us. Personally, I want people to see Marikana differently in future,” she adds.

Victims’ demands still not met

However, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, SERI, which represents most widows whose husbands were killed on 16 August 2012, says many of the organisation’s clients’ demands, such as the erection of a wall of remembrance at the Marikana koppie and engaging government to declare 16 August a public holiday, have not been addressed.

“We can confirm that Sibanye has continued educating the children and relatives of the mineworkers, in terms of the sixteen-eight trust. They’ve started a new project for building houses. The issue between Sibanye and the families is the fact that Sibanye has not engaged with the families and heard their concerns,” says SERI’s Executive Director, Nomzamo Zondo.

Activist in Marikana, Napoleon Webster, and Vido Ngqola of the Marikana Unemployment Forum have rejected Sibanye’s announcement.

“We don’t know what informs their promises and whatsoever. But, us as a community, we feel that we must have a full beneficiation of our minerals; that is platinum, chrome and others. As it is now, we cannot benefit only from labour,” Webster says.

“Since Sibanye has been promising jobs, jobs, but they are busy retrenching. They’ve retrenched they’ve retrenched two heads every day. They’ve been retrenching last year, they’ve retrenched again. They are lying to the media. They are lying to South Africans. But here in Marikana people are struggling my brother. People are really struggling,” says Ngqola.

Although many still carry resentment and anger about what happened to the mine workers in Marikana almost nine years ago, Sibanye says it has to offer a new reality, which reimagines the future of Marikana.