It has been 3 years since the incident at Marikana where 34 workers were gunned down and killed by police. These workers were protesting for better wages at the Lonmin mine. Since then, a commission headed by Judge Farlam produced a report, released at the end of June, after lengthy consideration by President Jacob Zuma.
Our stance as an organization has always been that the killing of 34 miners at the Lonmin Mine at Marikana shows the need to urgently intensify organized struggles for equality.
Miners who work long hours underground in conditions that put them in constant danger, and which are likely to make them chronically ill later in life, should not be earning a mere R4,000 a month.
In 2012 we urged NUM and COSATU to strengthen their grassroots struggles and renew their efforts to champion the struggles of the workers in Marikana, and other workers, for an income able to provide a dignified life.Since the Marikana workers strike in 2012 posotive developments have been few. Though the workers never got their R12500 wage demand, they did receive an increase estimated to be at least R2000 more for the lowest-paid worker when compared with August 2012. As of this year, the widows of the mineworkers or family members were given jobs by Lonmin as a way of compensation; enabling them to provide for their families. Lonmin also donated land to government to provide housing for the mineworkers. Despite this it has become clear that housing is still a problem in Marikana because the pressure on government's housing and infrastructure development budgets seems to be too much.
Moreover, the Farlam commission report was a disappointment. The failure of the commission to find anyone responsible for the killings but rather pinning the blame on 'process' has left the families of the deceased and the mineworkers disillusioned and unsatisfied.
Though the commission recommended an inquiry into Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office, it found no liability against Cyril Ramaphosa (then a non-executive at Lonmin), Susan Shabangu (then Minister of Mineral Resources) and the entire executive. This was not only shocking but disappointing to many.
This however should not stop us from seeking to answer the question “what should be done?”
We support and demand the speedy and full implementation of the following recommendations by the Farlam commission:
– The police should command police operations, with guidance from Cabinet only when appropriate, and it should be recorded;
-Training should be revised and extended to include the use of equipment such as water cannons, basic first aid and advanced first aid for specialist firearm officers;
-Police should be required to administer first aid to anyone wounded; and
-The purchasing of riot equipment should be carefully monitored to prevent money being spent on white elephants.
-There be a demilitarisation of the police, and for the creation of an international panel of experts as soon as possible to examine every aspect of public-order policing in fine detail.
-Police should be encouraged to co-operate fully with investigations into operations, including by political leaders, who should say nothing that would encourage the police to close ranks.
-Operations should have a full audit trail
In addition the commission found that a number of SAPS members on the ground were likely guilty of murder and attempted murder. The commission recommended that these cases be investigated. We are calling for the SAPS to identify members who may have exceeded the bounds of justifiable force and that criminal investigations and/or disciplinary measures be taken against these members. The Marikana widows have also decided to institute civil claims against Ramaphosa, the Police Ministry and Lonmin, a decision which we support.
3 years later the lives of the people affected by what happened in Marikana in 2012 remain forever changed. The workers, the families, the community members have all had a difficult 3 years trying to find answers, closure and progress. In our 2015 National Congress, we affirmed our support for the victims of Marikana. We further support the miners’ demands for a living wage, compensation for the families of the victims, and prosecution of those responsible for the massacre.
For more information contact:
Tshepo Motsepe, Equal Education General Secretary (071 886 5637)
Ntuthuzo Ndzomo, Equal Education Deputy General Secretary (072 931 4343)
Nombulelo Nyathela, Equal Education Spokesperson (060 503 4933)