South Africa's Marikana mine: Julius Malema rallies strikers

Police try to prevent striking mine workers marching to the Karee shaft at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa Wednesday, Sept, 5, 2012 Image copyright AP
Image caption There was a huge march by miners on Wednesday

South African activist Julius Malema says mineworkers must put down tools until wage demands are met, amid a deadly dispute at a platinum mine.

Mr Malema is set to march with workers later at the Marikana mine where police shot dead 34 people last month.

The march is due to coincide with the release of more miners who were controversially charged with murder.

The union involved in the conflict has refused to sign a peace accord with mine owner Lonmin and the government.

The National Union of Mineworkers (Num), which is allied to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, signed the accord.

It commits miners to return to work on Monday, ending a strike that started on 10 August.

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Media captionJulius Malema: "I am not calling for violence"

However, the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and representatives of non-unionised workers refused to the sign the accord, brokered by church leaders.

They vowed to intensify their strike action by confronting those who report for duty.

They say they will not return to talks until the topic of wages is on the table.

Lonmin said the deal "lays a firm foundation for the beginnings of the elimination of violence and intimidation".

The company is the world's third biggest producer of platinum, most of which comes from Marikana.

'Group of thugs'

Mr Malema, who was expelled from the governing African National Congress earlier this year for indiscipline, had earlier called for striking workers to make the mines ungovernable, but he told the BBC's Newsday programme that he was not calling for violence.

"People are just being sensational about the word 'ungovernable'. I mean, they must put down their tools. I'm not calling for violence. I'm not calling for killing of anybody," he said.

"Workers must refuse to sell their labour. Enough is enough, unless capital is prepared to pay enough living wage."

Earlier the South African government said it would not tolerate any incitement to violence or what it called unwarranted provocation.

Mr Malema said foreign investors had "stolen everything in this country - we are prepared to do everything to get back what belongs to us".

He said the only answer was nationalisation of the mines.

"Let's take our resources. Let's pay mineworkers. Let's build schools for our children. We do not call for wholesale nationalisation - we call for a majority sharehold by the state, with the participation of the private sector," he added.

Mr Malema, the former head of the ANC Youth League, was a close ally of President Jacob Zuma but the pair have fallen out over a number of issues.

Mr Malema has accused the president of ignoring the plight of poor black South Africans since he came to power in 2009.

In the BBC interview, he also delivered a warning to the ANC, saying it had been "hijacked by a group of thugs - there for themselves and their families".

He said he would "take it back into its rightful place - the hands of the people".

His critics say he has been "walking on the bodies" of those killed in Marikana to reignite his political career.

Judicial inquiry

More workers at the Marikana mine are due to be released later after they were charged with the murder of their colleagues who were shot by police.

The decision to charge 270 miners arrested during the protests under an apartheid-era law triggered a national outcry and the charges were dropped.

The first group of detainees was freed on Monday - some accusing the police of shooting dead protesters who were begging for their lives or trying to flee.

A judicial inquiry has been appointed to investigate the incident.

A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Directorate, Moses Dlamini, told the Associated Press news agency that the directorate was investigating all allegations lodged with it and would report its findings to the commission of inquiry established by President Zuma.

The miners, who say they are currently earning between 4,000 rand (£300; $475) and 5,000 rand a month, want their salary increased to 12,500 rand.

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