Five years after the massacre of Marikana, Bishop Johannes Seoka of the Bench Marks Foundation calls Lonmin for the fulfillment of promises
Ethical Shareholders and BASF Catalysts Group discuss today
An international alliance of non-governmental organizations has increased the pressure on the British-South African mining company Lonmin to show goodwill. At the general meeting of the world’s third largest platinum producer in London, the alliance led by the South African Bishop Johannes Seoka demanded that Lonmin finally make a public apology for its complicity in the massacre of Marikana.
Individual representatives of Lonmin, such as CEO Ben Magara, regret the incidents which led to the death of 34 miners on 16 August 2012, but failed to apologize . “People expect Lonmin to take responsibility,” said Bishop Seoka in front of hundreds of shareholders at Haberdasher’s Hall in the center of London. In fact, Lonmin had called the police to knock down the workers’ strike. The Anglican bishop had tried to prevent the emerging catastrophe on the day of the massacre, but had been forced by security forces to leave Marikana.
Bishop Seoka called for a “gesture of goodwill” from the Lonmin board. He said, “It could help to heal the wounds and relieve the tensions between the widows of the murdered miners, their dependents and Lonmin. Thus the bishop encouraged the establishment of a memorial of honor for the killed miners at the site of the incident.
The new Chairman of the Board, Brian Beamish, and Ben Magara, Lonmin´s CEO since 2013, assured the campaigners that a new era would be introduced and the concerns of the workers taken seriously. They promised to talk with all concerned about build a memorial. However, they did not formally apologize as a company nor did they promise a compensation for the miners , killed, injured and arrested during the massacre as well as the widows and orphans .
Before the opening of the General Assembly, representatives of the alliance held up the portraits of the 34 shot workers in front of the cameras of the international media. Bishop Seoka read the names of the 34 killed, 34 rifles were heard from the loudspeakers. The Plough Back the Fruits campaign, with its South African, German, Swiss and Austrian members, had already demanded compensation for the survivors of the Marikana massacre from BASF, the main customer of Lonmin’s platinum, in 2015 and 2016. However, BASF rejected the claim.
Barbara Müller from the Swiss Campaign for Debt Relief and Compensation in Southern Africa (KEESA) repeated this demand against Lonmin management. “To offer a job to the widows on Lonmin´s premises is not a solution. Many widows do not want to work for the company, which is responsible for the death of their husbands”, she said. In addition, their families, who usually live far away from the South African platinum belt, were torn apart. Ethical Shareholders´ Markus Dufner demanded that Lonmin finally fulfill their obligations for better living conditions for the workers. Most of the 33,000 miners still live in slum-shaped huts. The water and electricity supply in Marikana is deficient.
Following organisations were supporting the protest:
– Amnesty International UK
– Benchmarks Foundation (South Africa)
– Roof Association of the Critical Shareholders, Cologne
– Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR)
– Campaign for Debt Relief and Compensation in Southern Africa (KEESA), Switzerland
– Church Workplace Southern Africa (KASA), Heidelberg
– London Mining Network
– Marikana Miners Solidarity Group
– Plough Back the Fruits
– United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG)
Video of the protests before the Lonmin General Meeting:
Accompanied by shotgun noise, Bishop Johannes Seoka read the names of the 34 killed miners at the protest meeting on 26 January 2017 in front of Haberdasher’s Hall in London. Watch the video at:
Global Business, global responsibility?
Panel with Association of Ethical Shareholders, BASF and German Green Party on 2 February 2017 in Nienburg (Weser), the site of BASF Catalysts Group.
How did BASF react to the massacre of Marikana on August 16, 2012? How does the company see its responsibility?