A corpse was discovered on Tuesday, bringing the death toll from Marikana’s labor dispute to 45, as young tribune Julius Malema urged South African miners to launch a five-day-a-month nationwide strike for pay rises.
“The body of a man was found dead. (…) He appears to have been struck by a sharp object,” police spokesman Thulani Ngubane told AFP.
“We don’t know if he was killed yesterday (Monday) or this afternoon,” he added.
The Eyewitness News radio agency said the body was found lying face down not far from the hill where the strikers usually gather, with two deep cuts behind the head.
“The miners looked angry, but they ignored the corpse which was a few meters from them,” described a radio journalist on the spot.
The toll of the conflict in Marikana (north), which has poisoned South African political and social life for more than a month, has therefore reached 45 dead: 10 men – including two police officers and two security guards – killed in clashes at the start of the events, then 34 others killed by the police on August 16.
The day of Tuesday was tense on the spot. The Eyewitness News reporter also said a woman was attacked by strikers in the morning for taking pictures: they believed she was a management spy.
A group of miners armed with machetes, sticks, bows and spears marched in the afternoon towards the mine hospital.
Loyiso Mtsheketshe, one of their ringleaders, told Sapa news agency that they wanted to ask the hospital to stop delivering injured minors to the police.
Police arrested 260 people at the scene after the August 16 shooting — which left 78 injured, in addition to 34 dead — and then re-arrested 10 others as they left the hospital.
These 270 men were initially charged, among other things, with the murder of their comrades shot by the police, under a legal oddity inherited from apartheid. They were later released, the charge having been suspended, and some of them accused the police of ill-treatment.
Negotiations are at a parallel standstill, the 3,000 or so drillers remaining on their position: they want above all to triple their salary to 12,500 rand (1,200 euros) per month. Embarked on a wildcat strike which entered its fifth week, they prevent non-strikers from working.
A hundred kilometers away, the young populist tribune Julius Malema called on all miners in South Africa to go on strike to also claim 12,500 rand per month.
The white bosses, if they do not accede to your request, we will strike five days a month until we get 12,500 “rands, he launched in front of a few thousand strikers at the KDC gold mine, operated by the Gold Fields group, near Carletonville west of Johannesburg.
“You must make the mines ungovernable!”, Launched the former president of the ANC Youth League, expelled from the ruling party in April, who went on a crusade against his former friends, and their allies from the dominant unions .
He notably accuses them of having betrayed the grassroots by becoming shareholders in the mining companies.
“Juju”, very popular among the strikers, does not formally hold any position allowing him to speak on behalf of the miners or to decide on an action. He announced that he would continue his tour of the mines in the region.
“We need him to motivate us. Because it’s hell, every day we risk our lives, to gain nothing at the end of the day,” said a KDC miner, who wants to call himself KVM .