Demand for justice on eve of Marikana massacre commemorations
Civil society organisations have called for justice for the victims of Marikana on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.
There has been little progress in hauling to court those responsible for fatally shooting 34 miners in SA’s most violent post-apartheid incident. This is despite recommendations of the Farlam commission that set out processes to be followed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Members of the South African Police Service gunned down 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers in 2012 after weeks of violent protests that claimed the lives of 10 other people. The number could be higher. Ninety-four mineworkers were injured.
The Institute for Security Studies said the police commanders who authorised the killings "should be a priority for prosecution by the incoming head of the NPA".
The institution said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the police would be able to rid itself of the "deadly legacy" of Marikana only by taking responsibility of the killings.
Although the Independent Police Investigative Directorate has already identified police officers for prosecution for their role in the Marikana killings, the NPA is yet to act on the cases.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA’s director of litigation Nomzamo Zondo said: "The families of the dead miners and the wider SA public require at the very least that those accused of murder be put on trial. People need to be held accountable for shooting husbands, brothers, sons and fathers, and then lying about it".
At a Marikana Memorial lecture organised by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Johannesburg on Wednesday, political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the massacre was a "democratic tragedy".
He said that there was no "diplomatic way" of explaining the events that sent shockwaves across the world.
"That day human rights were disrespected. The most fundamental rights being the right to life, the right to dignity and the right to withhold labour.… Until this day, nobody has been prosecuted, and SA is quiet. My biggest worry is that SA sees Marikana as an ordinary atrocity," he said.
The Bench Marks Foundation’s chairman Bishop Jo Seoka said the government’s settlement proposal of less than R100m made to families as compensation recently was a "rushed effort" to secure a settlement before the sixth annual commemoration.
The families of the Marikana victims filed claims in August 2015 against the minister of police for compensation and a formal apology for the loss of their loved ones.
However, six years later, the state was still in negotiations with the families and injured mineworkers, among others, over the settlements.
Advocate Dali Mpofu said during his brief speech at the Amcu memorial lecture that a report would be released on the offers government has made.
He represents mineworkers who were injured during the massacre and those who were arrested in its aftermath.
"The government has been torturing us, promising money and making all kinds of promises in the media. We’ve continuously asked them to speak directly to the families rather than scoring points in the public domain by promising millions to the families of the deceased workers," he said.
Meanwhile, the ANC called on its own members in government to move with "urgency" in implementing the recommendations as directed by the Farlam commission, more so by addressing interventions aimed at "alleviating the plight of the affected families".
The party also said in a statement issued on Wednesday that mining companies should also proceed with speed to implement commitments made to improving conditions in affected communities.
Amcu is expected to hold the annual Marikana commemoration rally near the site where the tragedy took place on Thursday.