By Jerry Vilakazi
17 August 2021
It can be changed. We believe it can be changed. And we are committed as a company to play our part in doing so.”
Mr Jerry Vilakazi
I think in the last few days, like many South Africans, we’ve been following in the media the stories of many people around Marikana telling their experiences of what has come to be known as the Marikana tragedy.
I think the story of Marikana for us as a company, as Sibanye-Stillwater, is a story of pain, it is a story that is a reflection of some of the challenges that remain in our country.
When we took a decision to invest in Marikana, and buy Lonmin, we were very much alive to the challenges that are faced by the community in that area. We looked at the commercial deal as the directors of the company and from the Social and Ethics Committee we were alive to the realities that we are inheriting with the Marikana tragedy of nine years ago.
As everybody commemorates, reflects on the journey, listening to women who lost their husbands, listening to mothers who lost their sons, listening to those who lost their brothers, it is a story that you hear in many communities in South Africa.
We took a decision that while this is a painful area to invest in, it was an opportunity for us in terms of our own values and desire to change the way mining is being looked at in this country.
We were alive to the fact that the triple challenges of Marikana are not just unique to Marikana but they are a reality in many communities in our country, except that the implosion unfortunately of nine years ago brought to the fore the issues that many communities still have to struggle with.
So, we decided that we have values that we subscribe to that we are implementing, values that are driving us all over the world where we invest as a company, and we took a decision that we will take this challenge head on. We will play our role as a responsible company to work with other partners – with government, with unions, with communities and also with traditional leadership in that area – to bring about change.
That is why when we hear the stories that are being told by some of the people, the widows, they talk of beginning to see some movement, and seeing houses, and others being given opportunities to start small businesses. And we will continue working with other stakeholders to bring about change in that community.
We cannot do it alone as a company, but with other stakeholders together we can bring change, we can improve the lives of our people in that area. We are not driven by purely the life of mine. We realise that there is a community that needs to live a better life even when the mine has closed down. That is why a lot of the initiatives we are undertaking there are looking beyond the life of the mine. We call upon the government and all other
stakeholders, as directors of the company, and as the company, to work with us in finding long-lasting solutions to the pains of Marikana, to the story of Marikana.
It can be changed. We believe it can be changed. And we are committed as a company to play our part in doing so.
We are beginning to see a cup, a glass, that we can say is half-full. And we want to encourage everybody involved to work with us in solving these problems.
Mr Jerry Vilakazi
Independent Non-Executive Director Sibanye-Stillwater
17 August 2021