Marikana widows carry candles at an event commemorating the killing of 34 Lonmin mine workers. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Marikana widows carry candles at an event commemorating the killing of 34 Lonmin mine workers. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The government has offered families of the slain Marikana mine workers a R100m settlement for general damages, six years after the massacre.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute, which represents 320 claimants who have sued for loss of support and emotional shock, said on Thursday it had to consult the families on the offer.

Business Day can reveal that workers who were injured during the massacre and those who were arrested in its aftermath also received settlement proposals a month ago, which were rejected.

Forty-four people, among them security guards and police officers, were killed during the violent protracted strike by Lonmin mine workers in Marikana near Rustenburg in August 2012. The majority of victims were shot dead by the police.

About 250 people were arrested following the massacre, while 70 workers were injured. The families filed claims in August 2015 against the minister of police for compensation and a formal apology for the loss of their loved ones.

In 2017, the South African Police Service said the government had received 653 claims for loss of support, assault, arrest and detention, estimating that the damages could cost up to R1.1bn. In the same year, one family was paid R3.9m for loss of support.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute and other lawyers representing the interested parties have in the past complained of the government’s slow pace in settling the matter. Most of the strikers who were killed in Marikana were sole breadwinners — each supporting at least 10 people — according to estimates by unions.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured the public several times that the government was committed to concluding the Marikana matter.

Heal the wounds

During a TV interview on Monday he said there were processes that needed to be followed through and finalised with regards to the various lawsuits. "I thought it would be best to clean all that up so that when finally one goes … we should have a situation where we are able to effectively put closure to this matter and heal the wounds," Ramaphosa said.

He told Parliament during his state of the nation address reply that he was "determined to play whatever role I can, and in this I am guided by the wishes of the community".

Ramaphosa was accused by some for being complicit in the decision by the SAPS management to use live ammunition against mine workers in 2012.

"I know it has to be addressed. There has been discussions to address the tragedies by healing the wounds, they need to be met, I need to be there, which I am going to do. And there are other processes that need to be followed through and finalised with regard to the various lawsuits that have been launched," he said during the interview.

With the Marikana anniversary fast approaching, the government is under pressure to produce evidence of the progress it has made since the Farlam commission of inquiry.

The commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Gordon Farlam, released its findings in 2015, making several recommendations on various issues. Its mandate was "to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents".