The Socio Economic Rights Institute has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to keep his promise to play a role in atoning for the Marikana massacre. Picture: NGIZOZO JIYANE
The Socio Economic Rights Institute has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to keep his promise to play a role in atoning for the Marikana massacre. Picture: NGIZOZO JIYANE

President Cyril Ramaphosa should keep his promise to play a role in atoning for the Marikana massacre‚ lawyers for 36 families of the dead said on Thursday.

The Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI) was responding to a statement that Ramaphosa made in Parliament on Tuesday‚ when he said the government needed to take responsibility for their sins.

Ramaphosa also vowed to compensate the families of 44 miners who died during clashes with police. The president committed to playing "whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana".

SERI said if the state was serious about atoning for the Marikana massacre‚ the families of those killed had indicated that a meaningful response would include a formal and sincere apology from the minister of police for the loss of their loved ones.

"The families demand an apology‚ made in private and in person‚ followed by a public apology."

SERI said the apology should not only recognise the state’s responsibility for the shootings‚ but should also apologise for the state’s characterisation of victims as "criminals".

"An appropriate apology is important to the families to allow them to start the process of healing."

SERI also said the state had to approach the issue of compensation with an attitude that acknowledged the state’s culpability in the massacre.

It said the state had agreed to pay for the loss of financial support and for additional damages‚ but negotiating the settlement offers had taken so long and none of SERI’s clients had been compensated.

"The state must ensure that police officers responsible for the murder of the mine workers are criminally charged and prosecuted for their actions."

SERI said the state should apologise for its delay in bringing charges against those responsible.

"If the state takes these steps, it will bring much-needed closure to the families who feel that they have been abandoned by the South African government."