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Massacre of Lonmin miners: Christian Aid partners brokers meeting between management and strikers

August 22 2012 - Following one of the worst police shootings in South Africa since apartheid, Bishop Jo Seoka, chair of Christian Aid partner Bench Marks Foundation, has persuaded Lonmin executives to meet with striking miners in Marikana in the North West Province of South Africa.

'We have been in discussions since yesterday and we are pleased to announce that Lonmin have finally agreed to meet with representatives of the strikers,' Seoka announced, adding that executives at the British-owned mining company have already reversed their threat to sack striking workers because of the week-long period of national mourning. The outcome of the talks will be announced later today.

Seoka, also president of Christian Aid’s long-term partner SACC (South African Council of Churches), yesterday published an open letter to President Zuma demanding an immediate and objective enquiry into the killing of 34 miners on Thursday August 16.

'There is still a huge police presence here today, many of the striking miners are refusing to go back to work, and the miners' grieving families don't know if their loved ones will even get a decent burial,' Seoka said.

'The coming investigation into the shootings must commence promptly and consist of an impartial commission that will be able to establish responsibilities for the incident at all levels within the police force and government, and the top management of Lonmin.'

The killings took place at the Lonmin Platinum mine near Rustenburg after striking mineworkers stood firm on their demand for better pay and living conditions. It followed the tragic deaths of ten people earlier in the dispute.

According to Bench Marks Foundation, which specialises in monitoring corporate social responsibility, there is a complete lack of concurrence between the way mines in the North West Province present themselves and the way communities see them.

The Foundation also warns that further violent community protests are likely to erupt over the lack of education, training and employment opportunities in much of the Province.

'Communities in the area say that mines' corporate social responsibility programmes are "lies" as they make a lot of promises when they enter a community but often do not deliver,’ Seoka added.

'The majority of the projects are done to satisfy their public image and rarely do they consult with workers to find out what they actually need.'

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For further information please contact Emma Pomfret on 020 7523 2427. For more information about Bench Marks Foundation visit www.bench-marks.org.za

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in 47 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk