Crosses were placed on the hill near Marikana in memory of the miners who died during the violence. File picture: Reuters

Johannesburg - August 16, the day 34 striking miners were shot dead by police and many others wounded in 2012 at Lonmin's Marikana operations in the North West province, should be a public holiday, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) said on Tuesday. 

"Our primary demand that we raise every year is that, like Sharpeville, Langa, and Soweto massacre, Marikana massacre must also be recorded on our history. We must take the day off from our daily duties as a way of displaying honour to the fallen martyrs, who fought the ANC elite capitalist government which serves the interests of comrades rather than the popular masses,'' the party said in a statement. 

The PAC said it was dissatisfied with the living conditions of the mine workers five years after the fatal demand for a R12 500 minimum wage at Lonmin. "We have not seen the government taking responsibility to compensate the lives of Marikana massacre victims, they do not want to account for what they have done." 

"The Farlam Commission, like other toothless commissions, did not deliver closure to the victims of Marikana, more particularly the 34 widows who lost their husbands and fianceés who were breadwinners in their beloved poor families.''

 On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while attempting to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards, had been killed. The labour conflict was preceded by several incidents of violence and confrontation from August 10 at the platinum mine. 

Findings and recommendations by the Farlam commission, established to probe the incident, exonerated some of the key political figures accused then of having had a hand in the events leading up to the Marikana killings. They included the then Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Deputy and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a non-executive director at Lonmin. 

The commission recommended that former police commissioner Riah Phiyega and then North West police commissioner Zukiswa Mbobo's fitness to hold office be probed. The annual Marikana commemorations, led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), will take place in Marikana on Wednesday.