Members of the mining community walk near crosses placed at a hill known as the "Hill of Horror", where 43 miners died during clashes with police last year, during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, May 14, 2013. South African workers of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin launched a wildcat strike on Tuesday, halting all of the company's mine operations and reigniting fears of deadly unrest that rocked the industry last year. The platinum belt towns of Rustenburg and Marikana, which saw violent strikes at Lonmin and other platinum producers last year, are a flashpoint of labour strife with tensions running high over looming job cuts and wage talks. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST BUSINESS)
Members of the mining community walk near crosses placed at a hill known as the "Hill of Horror", where 43 miners died during clashes with police last year, during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, May 14, 2013. South African workers of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin launched a wildcat strike on Tuesday, halting all of the company's mine operations and reigniting fears of deadly unrest that rocked the industry last year. The platinum belt towns of Rustenburg and Marikana, which saw violent strikes at Lonmin and other platinum producers last year, are a flashpoint of labour strife with tensions running high over looming job cuts and wage talks. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST BUSINESS)

‘R153m Marikana probe offered little’

By Marianne Merten Time of article published Aug 14, 2015

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Johannesburg - Three days before the third anniversary of the police killings of 34 Marikana miners on August 16, 2012, Parliament’s debate offered little to relatives of the dead as MPs hauled out well-trodden party political lines.

Condolences were again expressed amid recognition of the families’ losses – over 300 dependents lost their breadwinners – but the opposition focus was on criticising President Jacob Zuma’s administration for sidestepping accountability.

ANC speakers highlighted the implementation of the Marikana commission’s recommendations, including an overhaul of public order policing, and various government socio-economic interventions. from housing to entrepreneurship support in mining towns.

Kicking off the debate in the interest of national importance requested by the EFF was its leader Julius Malema. He dismissed claims the party was using the tragedy as a political football and instead said the killings were facilitated “under the political influence and supervision of politicians, many of whom continue to enjoy privileges of this House”.

Bureaucrats and police shouldn’t be the only ones to take the blame as notorious Vlakplaas leader Eugene de Kock did for the apartheid police while political leaders escaped accountability.

“The ANC government with the influence of business politicians, in particular (Deputy President) Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, premeditated the killing of mineworkers at Marikana,” Malema claimed.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said it was “indefensible” that Zuma’s government had failed to take responsibility. “Those miners were deemed expendable if it meant bringing an end to the strike. That is the real crime. President Jacob Zuma’s government does not value the lives of all South Africans equally.”

The biggest insult, he added, was that the Farlam Commission’s terms of reference prevented it from making findings on compensation.

“The irony is that the Marikana inquiry cost R153 million to reach a set of conclusions that did nothing to provide justice, closure or compensation, including for the security guards and police officers who died during the protests, which amounts to almost R3.5 million per life lost,” Maimane said.

Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the week preceding the August 16 police killings.

Later, DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard dismissed statements by ANC MP Connie September, who fingered opposition parties for “skulduggery” and abusing the tragedy to serve their own interests, and the ANC’s police committee chairman Francois Beukman, who focused on creating a professionalised, demilitarised SAPS.

“You are sounding more and more like the old Nats, justifying the unjustifiable. Shame on you,” Kohler Barnard said.

The UDM’s Mncedisi Filtane said “the widows of Marikana are left in tears”. He urged Zuma to institute the compensation fund that the UDM had asked him to establish and to announce an annual commemoration of the killings “to remind companies they could not treat miners as commodities”.

IFP MP Albert Mncwango described the commission report as a whitewash, adding that the killings should never have happened. “It leaves in its wake a long trail of broken families and communities.”

Deputy Mineral Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant said the Marikana tragedy was “very sensitive” and MPs should show compassion and “disabuse ourselves of the temptation of scoring cheap political points”.

As the sweeper, or last speaker, he tackled the opposition’s criticism, saying that because the Farlam Commission made no findings against Ramaphosa, his name should not be involved.

Oliphant maintained the government was taking responsibility and appropriate action.

Political Bureau

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