Marikana massacre: Children of miners killed still waiting for justice to be served, 8 years on

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Eight years on, children of miners who were killed in Marikana are still awaiting justice.
Eight years on, children of miners who were killed in Marikana are still awaiting justice.
Leon Sadiki
  • 34 mineworkers were gunned down by police during a protest on 16 August 2012 in a small town in the North West which has become known as the Marikana massacre. 
  • Ten people, including security guards and police officers, were killed in the run-up to the mass shooting.
  • Eight years after the massacre, no one has been held accountable for the killings at the koppie.

Children of the mineworkers who were slain by police in what has become known as the Marikana massacre, have lost faith that those responsible for the death of their fathers will be held accountable.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) held a webinar on Thursday to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the Marikana massacre.

On 16 August 2012, police opened fire on striking mineworkers at the then Lonmin Platinum's Marikana operations in the North West. 34 miners were killed.

To date, no arrests have been made in connection with the mass shooting.

News24 previously reported that 10 people, including security guards and police officers, were killed in the run-up to the mass shooting at two sites around a koppie where workers had gathered during their strike, demanding a minimum salary of R12 500 a month.

READ | Families of slain Marikana miners call on Ramaphosa to turn his promises into action

SERI invited the children of two of the massacred mineworkers, who both detailed their loss of trust in ever seeing justice being served for their fathers who were taken away from them at a young age.

Nowili Nungu, who was 13-years-old when her father was killed, recounted the difficulties she and her family went through after the massacre.

"It was a shattering moment to hear that we lost our beloved fathers," Nungu said.  

"Life after losing them was so difficult. To have a single parent was not nice."

Nungu recalled the financial difficulties after losing a father who was the breadwinner in the house. Christmases were no longer about celebrations, but rather a decision to put food on the table over clothing or presents.

At the time, Nungu often thought about quitting school and finding a job to help her mother out. She would often cry when seeing friends interact with their fathers.

READ | Seven years since Marikana massacre and still no justice, says rights institute

"I would cry and wish my dad was here when I saw other kids being dropped off [at school]."

Almost eight years after her dad died, Nungu said that justice had not been served.

"I expected to see someone jailed, someone convicted for taking my father's life."

"The government of South Africa has shown me that they promote murder; no one was held accountable and it all happened under their noses."

Sebolai Liau said he was 14-years-old when his father was "brutally killed by police".

"Life after that has never been easy and the fact that no one was ever [held] accountable really irritates me."

Liau said his life had been miserable since losing his father and perpetual thoughts of the people responsible for killing his father being able to continue with life unabated, made his "heart bleed".

He added that it was sad and disheartening that no one had ever been held accountable.  

"I'm very disappointed in the South African government for being reluctant to deal with the matter, reluctant to hold those accountable," Liau said.

"I'm crying for justice to be served."

READ | The forgotten widows of Marikana: 'It's like our husbands killed themselves'

Axolile Nyotwala of the Social Justice Coalition said the culture of impunity which was seen in the Marikana massacre saga continued in South Africa and had also been experienced during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Notywala said government had failed; failed to fulfill promises, failed at governing, which forced the state to govern through police and other law enforcement.

He added that the lack of accountability and prosecution showed disdain for black lives in South Africa.

"We need to see politicians and those in leadership positions being criminally held for the actions that dehumanise and takes the lives of the poor and black people in the country," Notywala said.

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