Marikana tragedy. Picture: THE TIMES
Marikana tragedy. Picture: THE TIMES

Civil society organisations have commended the new report into the events of August 16 2012 in Marikana near Rustenburg where 34 miners were shot dead.

Although the Farlam Commission of inquiry found some fault lay with the miners — a finding that received criticism — a new report has found no evidence pointing to the miners attacking the police that led to a shooting.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) hosted seminar on Wednesday where David Bruce‚ an independent researcher and expert on Marikana and policing‚ presented his findings in the "Sound of Gunfire" report.

Thami Nkosi‚ Right2Know’s campaign organiser for Gauteng‚ said it was disheartening that‚ six years later‚ politicians had still not taken accountability for the massacre.

"We commend the report as it is bringing us closer to the truth. Information has been coming bit by bit; we appreciate the continued effort by civil society to find out what really happened," he said. "Over the years politicians have done their best to dodge responsibility and have instead frustrated the process. There has been a deliberate attempt by political heads to derail justice. The longer this drags [on] the better for them."

Nkosi said the widows of Marikana and the public in general needed closure in the form of acceptance and accountability from the government that it was wrong for "colluding with business" at the expense of the workers lives.

Siphiwe Mbatha of the civil society organisation United Front echoed these sentiments, saying no form of redress has been instituted by the government after such a long time — even after the commission of inquiry into the matter made recommendations.

"The miners were protesting against their employer‚ not the police. Some of the findings on the report are a true reflection of what happened that day," Mbatha said. "To this day, the police have not been properly trained on crowd control‚ something that the commission recommended. The right thing that should be happening is for the government to take responsibility for what happened and compensate the widows."

Mbatha said President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who was implicated in what happened by some‚ still owed the people of Marikana closure. "It was mockery when he said that he was planning to go to Marikana during mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral. Although the community might reject his visit‚ he should have tried. People on the ground still need someone like him to apologise and give them hope."

In contrast to the Farlam Commission’s findings‚ Bruce said there was no concrete evidence that the striking miners posed a threat to police at certain times and places on the day. He said one man‚ "Mr Mphumza" raised an assegai to police, but added, "It is inconclusive whether he was attacking the South African Police Services or not."

Retired judge Ian Farlam, who presided over the inquiry, said that prima facie evidence indicated that those that fired at "Scene Two" (Koppie 3) were not doing so in self-defence. He added, "The re-militarisation of [the] police contributed to the massacre."

However, the commission received backlash for finding that there was some fault and intention on the part of the miners, and noting, "There was an arms dealer selling pangas in Marikana who sold out all his stock on the Saturday morning prior to attacks on security guards and others on Sunday."