Government has failed to deliver the promised 2,658 houses in Marikana and Sibanye-Stillwater is evading accountability, said the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and Amnesty International South Africa today as the country marks the 10th Anniversary of the Marikana Massacre.
“Ten years on and the situation has not changed in Marikana. A new company might be in charge, but the dire consequences of mining remain. Marikana is a testament to mining impacts in South Africa. Profits over people will continue until the system is overhauled to put mining communities first,” said Head of Environmental Justice at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Dr Louis Snyman.
In 2015, the Farlam Commission, the judicial commission of inquiry that investigated the events which led to the deaths of 44 people (including the 10 people who were killed in the days leading up to the Marikana massacre), found that Lonmin had failed to adhere to the terms of its legally binding Social Labour Plan (SLP) with regard to housing, and that the company had “created an environment conducive to the creation of tension and labour unrest” by not addressing the housing situation at Marikana.
Latest available reports indicate that only 544 houses of the 2,658 units, that the government promised, have been completed since the Marikana Extension 2 Integrated Development Project began in the 2014/15 financial year. According to the government, the houses were supposed to be delivered over a period of three years. The project came after then-owners Lonmin (now owned by Sibanye-Stillwater) donated 50 hectares of serviced land, which was intended for the building of accommodation units by the government for employees and local community members.
This is not the only broken promise.
In its 2006 SLP, Lonmin committed to building 5,500 houses for their migrant employees but only built three. The company claimed that it did not find any financial partners and workers did not want to buy the houses, and this is why the houses were not built. The Farlam Commission rejected this explanation, not least because this is not what Lonmin’s SLP actually says. The SLP provided a capital budget for the housing programme, stated that housing will be offered for rental and sale, and made no mention of the plans being dependent on a partnership with a property developer.
In 2014, Lonmin submitted a revised SLP in which it committed to building infill apartments, which are apartment blocks built in between buildings. According to then-President Jacob Zuma, the infill apartments would replace the 5,500 houses that they committed to, and would address 85% of the rental needs of employees who were uninterested in home ownership. Lonmin only produced 1,240 apartments under this project, despite the fact that the company’s 2013 SLP had indicated that there was an opportunity for construction of 4,000 units over the next five years.
“Government’s failure to deliver on its promises and to hold mines accountable has a negative impact on human rights, in this case the right to have access to adequate housing. According to the mine, 37% of all employees live in informal conditions,” Amnesty International South Africa’s Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said.
Documents shared by Sibanye-Stillwater show that a company employee survey that was conducted in 2017 found that 63% of employees are interested in investing in their place of work (of those, 33% want to buy a house, 28% want to upgrade their house, and 27% want to build and need to secure a loan). In their 2019-2023 SLP it further states that 65% of employees had creditworthiness challenges and 29% affordability challenges to purchasing a house.
The company’s 2021 Integrated Report states that at the Marikana operations, four home ownership transactions were concluded, with another 53 home ownership transactions lodged for transfer.
While the mine has promised to support employees who are over-indebted and have a negative credit record in order to rehabilitate their credit standing “as far as possible”, it has not yet provided the details of how this will be done and how this will be measured. The current SLP also has no specific and clear targets related to housing.
When asked about these, Sibanye-Stillwater said: “We will attempt where possible to answer on behalf of Lonmin what we could find in our files; but important to highlight that we were not operating the mine when some of the actions were taken and can only offer our views on the basis of second hand observations. Our time horizon is 2019 and the new SLP you refer to was submitted originally by Lonmin and only approved recently so we are now implementing it to catch up on the balance of the years when it was still not approved for implementation”.
When the Competition Tribunal approved Sibanye Stillwater and Lonmin’s merger in 2018, it also stated that all parties agreed that “Sibanye will honour all existing and future SLP commitments of Lonmin”. This was aimed at ensuring that “no obligations are extinguished or diluted as a result of this transaction”.
Despite promising to share its annual compliance reports during a meeting held on 3 August 2022, the mine has since refused to share the reports saying: “compliance report[s] are for the attention of the Regulator as it is the authority dealing with that and we therefore recommend that you please engage the regional office to get the reports as they include personal information (the SLP has other elements other than Mine Community Development and also contains private information of other stakeholders in other sections)”. In a follow up email the mine added that its representatives during the meeting meant “the reports that we do for MCD [Mine Community Development] not the whole [compliance report] that has other elements not associated with Mine Community Development”.
Amnesty International South Africa and CALS have submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy with regards to the annual compliance reports and are waiting for a response. We have also written to the Minister of Human Settlements requesting for more information in relation to the Marikana Extension 2 Integrated Development Project and have not received a response yet.
On 16 August 2012, the South African Police Service fatally shot 34 men at Marikana in South Africa’s North West province. The men were employees of the mining company, Lonmin, and had been engaged in a strike and protest action over pay and conditions at the mine. The scale and visibility of the killings, as well as the growing unrest across the mining sector, sparked a national crisis.
CALS represented the SA Human Rights Commission at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and made submissions on Lonmin’s social and labour plan.
CALS also participated in the Competition Tribunal hearings on the merger between Lonmin and Sibanye on behalf of Sikhala Sonke to ensure the SLP conditions were taken into account
In 2016 Amnesty International released a report titled Smoke and mirrors: Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
From Amnesty International South Africa
Genevieve Quintal (Media and Communications Officer) at email@example.com or on 064 890 9224
From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Louis Snyman (Head: Environmental Justice) at Louis.Snyman@wits.ac.za or on 083 355 6482