Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe attending the inaugural Marikana Massacre Commemoration Memorial Lecture in Johannesburg. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe on Wednesday reiterated calls for August 16 to be observed as South Africa's Workers Day in commemoration of the killing of Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana six years ago. 

Hlophe was delivering a keynote address at the inaugural Marikana Massacre Commemoration Memorial Lecture in Johannesburg to mark the sixth anniversary of the Marikana. 

He drew comparisons between Marikana 2012 with Sharpeville and June 16 which have the status of a public holiday, saying that there was no reason why the government should not observe such day as well, as a workers' holiday in South Africa. 

"The dictionary is very clear that a massacre is the killing of many people. There are many similarities between the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, the 1976 Soweto Youth Uprising and the 2012 Marikana Massacre. The only two major differences are the reasons behind the protests and that on June 16 and in Sharpeville, people were murdered by the racist regime," Hlophe said.

"Marikana however, happened right under the nose of our democratically elected government. Marikana, in my mind, was nothing more than a normal labour dispute. Workers were not satisfied with their working conditions, their safety at work and most importantly their minimum wage, and therefore took to protest. Unfortunately, it was allowed to escalate out of control. Thirty-four of the workers were killed. It is no more than what it is – it is a massacre. 

The lecture was held in memory and in commemoration of the 34 mineworkers were shot by the South African police on 16 August 2012, with a further 78 wounded and 275 were arrested. Ten people, including six mineworkers, two Lonmin security officers and two policemen, were killed in days leading up to the August 16 massacre, following a week-long protest by workers demanding a wage increase.

The event, hosted by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), included speakers such as political analyst Ralph Mathekga, Advocate Dali Mpofu and Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa. Amcu will be hosting their annual wreath-laying service in Marikana on Thursday in memory of the lives lost along with their loved ones.

African News Agency (ANA)