'Never again can we allow such a tragedy to befall our nation' - Ramaphosa on Marikana massacre

Crosses at Marikana. Photo: Getty Images
Crosses at Marikana. Photo: Getty Images

A "tragedy" like the Marikana massacre should never happen again, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said in a tweet.

This as the country commemorates the killings seven years ago at Lonmin's Marikana mine. A total of 44 people lost their lives at the mine in August, 2012, with 34 being killed by police on August 16. 

Ramaphosa, who was a director and shareholder at Lonmin at the time, shared a message to South Africans via his personal Twitter page.

"The Marikana tragedy stands out as the darkest moment in the life of our young democracy. Today we remember our 44 compatriots who lost their lives in Marikana seven years ago this week. Never again can we allow such a tragedy to befall our nation," he tweeted.

The ANC said in a statement on Friday that "Marikana will forever remain blight on the history of democratic South Africa". 

"The ANC recognises that, try as we might, South Africa can never go back and undo the tragic incidents leading up to and which occurred on that fateful day. However, as South Africans, we can learn from them, or rather we have a duty to learn from them," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

A strike for better wages in 2012 resulted in 34 people being killed by police, 78 wounded and 250 arrested on August 16, 2012. Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed during the previous week, News24 earlier reported.

ALSO READ: Marikana inquiry cost R153m - report

The EFF hit out at the ANC government in a statement. 

"Mineworkers were demanding a living wage, fighting with a white-owned mine that had exploited black people for many years. They were refusing the working conditions that kept their lives in danger for almost no pay and no benefits, including medical aid.

"Yet the ANC government chose to protect the white-owned mine and its interests, instead of helping workers change their historic conditions, as a cheap and easily disposable labour," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Friday.

The South African Communist Party called on workers and trade unions to unite and wage a "common struggle against economic exploitation".

"What happened in the Rustenburg platinum belt, inclusive of Marikana, points to the fundamental necessity for workers and trade unions to unite in pursuit of the common struggle against economic exploitation; the struggle for social emancipation," party spokesperson Alex Mashilo said in a statement.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the Marikana tragedy had failed to bring about any changes for the families of those affected, just like no change had been brought about after the deaths of missing Lily Mine workers, Pretty Mabuza, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi whose bodies have been stuck underground at Lily Vantage gold mine in Mpumalanga since the 15th of February 2016.

"The mine bosses have to acknowledge and confront the fact that they are primarily responsible for fostering discord and violence in many workplaces in the sector.

"The undeniable fact is that it is their quest for super profits that has created orphans and cost workers their lives.The legacy of the Marikana killings should be about changing the conditions of the mine-workers and holding the mining companies accountable for the damage that they have inflicted on the workers and communities for the last hundred years," it said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Marikana: What you should know

On August 26, 2012, fomer president Jacob Zuma appointed a Marikana Commission of Inquiry chaired by Judge Ian Farlam to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising from the killings, News24 earlier reported.

A 600-page report was submitted to the president in March 2015, which recommended that an inquiry be held into the fitness of then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and North West commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo to hold office,

It also recommended that the killings and assaults be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further investigation, News24 reported.

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