Khulumani Endorses the Demand for Disclosure of the List of National Key Points, given the Experience of the SASOL One Strike of October 1987.
As a member of the Right to Know Coalition, Khulumani Support Group endorses the call for disclosure of the full list of sites that have been identified as National Key Points. The statement released by R2K and SAHA is available online.
As R2K and the South African History Archives go to the high court today to argue for access to the list of National Key Points, following the refusal of the South African Police Service to release this information, Khulumani reminds the nation of the way that this apartheid legislation protected the South African public from knowledge about the brutal suppression on the instruction of Sasol’s management of the 1987 workers’ strike in Sasolburg.
Any activities at the Sasol plants were protected from public scrutiny during apartheid, using the National Key Points Act. Sasol was critical for the apartheid regime because it produced oil from coal in the context of an international oil embargo placed on the country by the United Nations. The secrecy provided to Sasol One allowed for Sasol’s Management to organise for the brutal suppression of the unionisation of its workers and the crushing of the workers’ legal strike in 1987. This story has remained hidden from public knowledge up until today.
Sasol’s tactics at that time, some 27 years ago, included using its own trained units to harass and even to kill striking workers while the special units in the police collaborated in attempting to violently break the strike. Judge Bulbulia’s judgment in the Labour Court attested to the lengths to which Sasol’s management went to try to suppress all union activities at its plants at this time. Seventy-seven workers lost their lives at Sasol One and associated plants in Sasolburg during the 1987 strike, a situation which Sasol has failed to redress to the present.
Apartheid legislation like the National Key Points Act, creates conditions where the use of the police for political agendas is allowed to be kept secret. In the context of a worldwide move for regulations to enforce the ending of impunity for corporate crimes, the recent assertion by the Minister of Police that the privacy of private companies must be protected, creates situations that produce the devastating killings of workers at Sasol One in 1987 and at Marikana in 2012.
It is particularly worrying that apartheid legislation is increasingly being used to maintain blanket secrecy over certain sites and what happens there. As a member of the R2K Campaign, Khulumani understands the need to protect legitimate security concerns, but remains deeply worried in the context of the still-unresolved deadly outcome of the 1987 Sasol strike, about the ways in which this legislation can be used to hide terrible incidents from the public eye.
While Khulumani continues to wait for a promised high-level meeting with Sasol’s Management, we have come to understand that it is only transparency that prevents atrocities such as the killing of workers as happened in Sasolburg in 1987. The experience of the 2,400 Sasol Ex-Workers who remain mostly unemployed from that time, indicates the importance of opposing legislation that creates secrecy in our politics and public life.
For comment, please call Dr Marjorie Jobson 082 28 0223 or Ms Nomarussia Bonase 060 878 9778
Khulumani Support Group
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