Marikana: Broken promises add insult to injury for the miners’ widows

2015-06-25 22:32
Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press

Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press

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@Athi_Saba MarikanaReport

The widows and families of the miners who were killed, wounded or arrested at Marikana in 2012 found no comfort in the report delivered by President Jacob Zuma this evening. 

Read the full report here.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events at the Lonmin platinum mine found that individual striking miners encouraged the violence, that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa could not be held accountable for the death of 34 miners, and called into question the fitness of the national police commissioner and the North West provincial commissioner to hold office. 

President Jacob Zuma read from a summary of the commission’s report, which was more than 600 pages long. 
“The commission has recommended that there must be an inquiry into the fitness to hold office of the national police commissioner [General Riah Phiyega] as well as the North West provincial commissioner [Lieutenant-General Zukiswa Mbombo],” he said. “I have written to the national commissioner to inform her of the recommendations pertaining to her.” 

The summary of the report said that individual strikers encouraged the violence during their strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana in August 2012. 

“The commission has found it cannot be said that Ramaphosa was the cause of the massacre and that the accusations against him are groundless.” 

Two weeks ago Zuma’s attorneys, who were in court defending him from releasing the report immediately, had verbally agreed that they would give the public and all affected parties 48 hours’ notice prior to releasing the report. 

His failure to adhere to the agreement left the families scrambling to organise transport, a TV on which to watch the address, and a venue for the affected parties to congregate. 

Kathleen Hardy, a representative of the families, said they would not be able to comment or give any interview tonight. 
“The reason for this is that after numerous calls for a 48-hour notice for the report to be released, it was not adhered to. Families found out from the media that the report would be released. There were attempts to find a place [to watch Zuma’s address] but when we arrived the television was not working. It’s unfortunate and disgraceful and we will be consulting with our clients,” said Hardy. 

Earlier today, for four hours, miners tried to find a meeting place for everyone to congregate. At 5pm, at the Lonmin living quarters where many of the families live, the widows were huddling around trying to figure out where the 7pm announcement would be heard. 

At least six women draped themselves in blankets waiting for direction. Frantic calls were made to a taxi owner to transport everyone to the koppie, where 34 miners were gunned down, or to the stadium where numerous Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union meetings were held. But arrangements quickly changed to keeping the widows away from media scrutiny as they heard what Zuma was about to say. 

The mad rush continued as the families’ representatives arrived and assisted in transporting the widows to the Lonmin headquarters, where a boardroom was reserved for the screening. But Zuma had already started his address. 

As Zuma continued reading, phones, radios and laptops were set up. The Lonmin TV set would not work. 

“We came all the way to support our clients, but this is not how we thought it would pan out. The few who were here are really disappointed. We will meet with our clients on Sunday to figure out a way forward,” said Mapule Keetse. 

- Additional reporting by News24

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