This year we commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the tragic Marikana Massacre, where the toxic relationship between the state and mining capital resulted in the death of 34 mineworkers fighting for a living wage. Their stand against international mining conglomerates, in the form of Lonmin, represented a call to an end to the hyper-exploitation of the black working class on which the South African economy has been built for over a century. 

Wits University and Sibanye-Stillwater have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which cements the institution’s partnership with a heartless mining company for an extended period of 10 years. 

Sibanye-Stillwater may present itself as a company that is governed by a commitment to community development and social progress, but it continues to deny workers a living wage and on multiple occasions, unions have called for Sibanye sites to be closed due to their health and safety violations. 

Following a highly controversial R5 Billion merger in 2019, Lonmin became a subsidiary of Sibanye – essentially making Sibanye-Stillwater the new face of Lonmin, among other things. Sibanye now shares the State’s moral responsibility to compensate the victims of the Marikana Massacre. Yet, in the aftermath and to this day, Lonmin – and now Sibanye – have neglected to pay out any meaningful compensation to the widows and orphans of the deceased miners. 

South Africa’s mineral wealth must not be held in the private hands of a small ruling class but should serve the interests of workers and communities. These mines should be owned and democratically controlled by workers and surrounding communities. We stand in solidarity with students, mine workers and mining affected communities fighting for mining and environmental justice. 

SAFTU also reiterates its call for a united working-class to fight against cuts in social spending including on higher education. We stand with students fighting for free, quality, decolonised education for all. Public education should not be funded by private investments or sponsorships by the ruling elite where they can unduly influence public institutions. We need public ownership of public goods funded through the nationalisation of our economy under the democratic control of the working class. In the face of climate disaster, we also need urgent and significant investment in well-paying green jobs and infrastructure for a socialist just transition. 

Mining capital should not be absolved of responsibility for the role it played in South Africa’s deep and relentless crises of inequality, poverty, unemployment and now the looming climate disaster. We support the calls of progressive students demanding the following: 

1) Sibanye-Stillwater must offer immediate and substantial compensation to the widows and orphans of the Marikana Massacre. 

2) Sibanye-Stillwater must answer AMCU’s allegations that the living conditions of Nkaneng informal settlement in Marikana have not improved with proactive and meaningful interventions involving widespread socio-economic development plans and the prioritised implementation thereof. 

3) Wits must scrap its MOU with Sibanye and commit to actively pursuing a radical climate justice and decolonial agenda. 

4) AMIC Deck should be renamed the Marikana Memorial Bridge. 

Members of the media are invited to attend the picket arranged as follows: 

Date: 22 September 2022 

Time: 12:00 

Venue: AMIC deck, University of Witwatersrand 

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