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

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Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in the green blanket, rallies mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012. PHOTO: Leon Sadiki
Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in the green blanket, rallies mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012. PHOTO: Leon Sadiki

Friday marks seven years since 34 mineworkers were shot dead in a burst of police gunfire during a protest at the then Lonmin Platinum's Marikana operations, but families have yet to see justice.

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

"Only eight police officers, including Major General William Mpembe, in his capacity as former North West deputy police commissioner, have been charged for crimes related to the massacre," said the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). 

"The eight have been charged for the deaths of three striking mineworkers and two police officers who were killed on 13 August 2012 and for failing to disclose a death in police custody and for lying to the Farlam Commission.

"Despite having dockets since 2017, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has failed to prosecute anyone for the deaths on 16 August 2012."

WATCH | Faces of Marikana

The "Marikana Massacre", the shootings of August 16, 2012, also came during a breakaway from the National Mineworkers Union and the rise of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). 

The union wants the day to be declared a public holiday in honour of workers, instead of the international workers day of May 1 that the country marks. 

Lonmin PLC has since been acquired by Sibanye-Stillwater, with the acquisition completed on June 10. 

READ | Marikana report: Key findings and recommendations

At last year's commemoration of the massacre, Lonmin said a trust, called the 1608 Memorial Education Trust, had been set up to ensure that the families of the employees who died in 2012 receive an education up to and including university level.

At the time it said the Trust had disbursed R8.9m in tuition, boarding fees, transport, uniforms and educational projects.

AMCU has tried to prevent the Lonmin acquisition from going ahead but did not succeed. Wage negotiations are currently also under way again.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a Lonmin shareholder at the time, has continually been reminded that he was part of email correspondence calling for "concomitant action" to be taken after the death of the 10 people. He is a former NUM official.

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