Families of Marikana victims want more than the R500 000 offered by state

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A remembrance cross made of flowers at Marikana.
A remembrance cross made of flowers at Marikana.
Felix Dlangamandla/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Image

NEWS


The Socio-Economic Rights Institution of SA (Seri-SA) wants the state to review its offer to the 320 individual family members it represents legally, and not the R500 000 offered to each of the 36 families of the victims of the Marikana massacre.

Seri-SA said it had not heard from the state since its last formal engagement, about eight months ago, when it asked for the R500 000 to be taken up to R1.5 million per family if the state could not make an offer for individuals.

Briefing the media on Wednesday on the reparations linked to the events of the tragic days over which 44 families lost their loved ones during a wildcat strike at Lonmin in August 2012, the Solicitor-General, Fhedzisani Pandelani, said that at least three amounts paid to claimants through three law firms that represented them amounted to about R170 million.

He said of this amount, R69 million was paid to Seri-SA on behalf of 35 of the 36 families it represented. At that point, the families’ attorneys brought up the issue of general and constitutional damages.

In response, the state made available a further R18 million, which amounts to an offer of R500 000 for each of the 36 families. This offer was rejected by Seri-SA.

READ: Marikana: Still no justice

The institute felt the offer should be crafted in a way that any offer made will be for each family member who suffered damages as individuals, not per family unit.

The two parties were still at loggerheads and are waiting for the court to help resolve the matter.

Seri-SA executive director Nomzamo Zondo said the general damages claim was “meant to assuage the hurt of feelings, trauma and address loss of parental care suffered by minors, as well as grief by family members”. She said those were the reasons the payment should be made to individual family members.

She said the institute represented a total of 320 people, and that if the state’s R18 million was divided between the number of individuals, it would give each of them about R56 000.

There will be disparities because we have small and big families, and the offer means someone is offered more than R200 000 for their emotional suffering and grief, and the other one gets about R25 000 for the same damage.
Nomzamo Zondo

“It should be understood that the smallest family we represent have only two members and the biggest is made up of 19 people. The state wants to go to both families and tell them they are offered different amounts,” Zondo said.

Explaining the state’s offer, Pandelani said the general and constitutional damages were not easy to quantify, but they “needed to be reasonable under the circumstances and ... we believe that, as the state, we need to approach this matter with some degree of humanity and without prejudice.

“If you invoke the ‘once and for all’ rule, you would not actually look back [after the R69 million paid out already], but we are dealing with human beings here and these are matters of importance. The R500 000 we are offering has been solely in the spirit of good faith to those who lost their loved ones.

We don’t have a bottomless budget. Any amount the state pays must be fair, just and reasonable under the circumstances.
Pandelani

Pandelani said the R170 million paid since 2018 was for, among others, loss of support, unlawful arrest and detention and personal injuries.

He said the state has dealt with claims from spouses of those who were killed, as well as their parents, grandparents, children and stepchildren, siblings, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, and cousins. He said all claims were being centralised in the office of the state attorney in Pretoria.

Pandelani said that one of the organisations that represented families of the victims was the Wits Law Clinic, which had since received R3.9 million on behalf of the claimants.

According to Pandelani, Nkome Attorneys represented 275 claimants, and has been paid R97.6 million to date.

READ: 8 years on, families of Marikana's dead still waiting for justice

He said only 253 claimants settled on the offer and the state was still in negotiations with 11 claimants. There were still issues with another other 11 claimants whose law firm has been unable to locate them or cannot send its clients for verification by the state.

Andries Nkome from Nkome Incorporated said that the state was “at pains to demonstrate that it is compassionate and caring in the finalisation of Marikana lawsuits. We say justice delayed is justice denied. It’s been nine years since the massacre and we are still talking about compensation for victims. Not all claims are final ... our clients hope that government will visit Marikana and apologise for the massacre,” he said.

Nkome added:

Government has only made a partial payment for the 279 wrongly arrested mine workers. Not even one of the injured mine workers has been compensated a cent by the state, nine years on.

Pandelani said the state was still in negotiations with two other law firms, PA Hlahla Attorneys and Maluleke, Msimang & Associates, for possible settlements on behalf of the people who suffered injuries and those who were assaulted.

He said the law firms had submitted almost all the required documents to quantify damages, and once the state’s offer was accepted, payments would be made.


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Poloko Tau 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
poloko.tau@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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