Unite the Union United Left calls for an independent inquiry into the Marikana massacre of 2012
The United Left unreservedly condemns the killing of black striking miners in the Marikana massacre by South African police, an act that shocked the civilised world. In 2012 United Left welcomed the announcement by President Zuma that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry would investigate the facts and make recommendations. South Africa needed to re-examine itself closely following this atrocity committed by a predominantly white police force with guns and dogs that looked far too much like the apartheid-era forces of state repression.
The Farlam Report (the report issued from the official government inquiry into the Marikana miners’ massacre of August 2012) has failed to satisfy the calls from within and outside South Africa for justice.
1. The miners are blamed for their own deaths.
It states: “The tragic events … originated from the decision and conduct of the strikers in embarking on an unprotected strike by violence and intimidation, using dangerous weapons for the purpose”.
2. The South African police are described as merely “incompetent” (including incompetent in attempts to deceive the public and the Commission).
The report fails to tackle the central question about the role of the police in the Marikana massacre. An expert police witness described it as a force “remilitarised and politicised since 2000” in order to suppress increasingly numerous and angry protests and uprisings against stark inequalities in South African society. Senior police were completely evasive in their answers on politicians’ involvement in the decision to use violence to suppress a strike.
3. Top politicians are exonerated
Many top politicians including Cyril Ramaphosa (current ANC Deputy President and shareholder at Lonmin) claimed there was no labour dispute and that the miners were criminals, in the lead-up to the massacre. As one of the policing experts called during the Inquiry said, there is no way such a decision would be taken by the police on their own. It would have to involve politicians and the judiciary.
4. Lonmin, the mining company, gets a tiny, unenforceable slap on the wrist for decades of unrelenting economic exploitation imposed on miners and their families.
Along with other foreign-owned mining companies, Lonmin has made super-profits from brutalising black migrant workers, condemning them to live in squalor, hundreds of miles from their loved ones, on starvation wages and in spite of agreements to the contrary has failed to provide decent housing for their workers.
5. Above all, Farlam fails to identify those accountable for the deaths of the 34 miners on strike for a living wage.
No state agency or politician has accepted responsibility, none of the police who shot the miners (many in the back) have been prosecuted – and no justice has been done.
In line with our November 2012 statement, United Left supports the proposal from the Marikana Justice Campaign for an independent inquiry into the Marikana miners’ massacre.