A commission probing the deaths of at least 44 people at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana mines criticized the world’s no. 3 platinum producer for ordering employees to go to work while their colleagues embarked on a violent strike.
At least 10 people were killed in fighting between labor unions and police during a strike at the operations in August 2012. A further 34 were shot in a confrontation with officers in a single day, the deadliest police action since the end of apartheid rule in 1994. President Jacob Zuma delivered the findings of the inquiry led by retired judge Ian Farlam during a televised speech Thursday.
Lonmin didn’t respond to the threat and outbreak of violence and failed to employ sufficient safeguards and measures to ensure the safety of its employees, Zuma said.
“Lonmin also insisted that its employees who were not striking should come to work despite the fact that it knew that it was not in a position to protect them from attacks by strikers,” he said.
The commission recommended that Lonmin’s failure to comply with responsibilities in housing and labor plans should be drawn to the attention of South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources, “which should take steps to ensure the performance of these obligations,” Zuma said.
Lonmin has placed much emphasis on improving workers’ living conditions since the killings, Chief Executive Officer Ben Magara said in an e-mailed statement.
“We as a company have already moved a long way towards building a more open, transparent and mutually trusting environment,” Magara said. “I cannot say that we have fully achieved this yet, but I can say that we have made progress.”