Johannesburg - The slow progress of prosecutions of police officers charged with the murders of 34 mineworkers people in Marikana eight years ago should not be blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic.
The call was made by non-profit, faith-based organisation Bench Marks Foundation, which stated that the Covid-19 crisis was no excuse for the lack of progress on prosecutions of police officers responsible for the mineworkers’ deaths.
“Time and again, organisations such as ours have warned of the need for justice in the Marikana Massacre to be seen to be done. That we have reached yet another anniversary without any concrete progress in the matter is indicative of our government’s uncaring attitude towards the people they represent,” Bench Marks Foundation chief executive John Capel said this week.
Capel complained that there had been no progress made in the prosecutions of police officers for their role in the massacre.
Former and current police officers have been charged with the murder of mineworker Phumzile Sokhanyile and concealing the circumstances surrounding the death of another mineworker Modisaotsile van Wyk Segalala.
Over a dozen mineworkers are also on trial for some of the 10 murders as well as attempted murders of their non-striking colleagues, police officers and security, guards preceding the massacre.
The trials were due to resume in April but were delayed by the Covid-19-enforced national lockdown declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March.
The National Prosecuting Authority in the North West did not provide an update on the progress of the prosecutions this week.
Also calling for justice were the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, which represents the families of the 34 mineworkers killed on August 16, 2012, and Neal Froneman, the chief executive of Sibanye-Stillwater, which bought Lonmin last year.
Delivering Sibanye-Stillwater’s inaugural Marikana memorial lecture on Friday, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said the mineworkers did not have to die.
“On those few days from August 12 to 16, 2012, the fabric of society was tampered with. And this process that is happening today and that’s been happening since then is a process to rebuild the social fabric that was torn.
“But the social fabric was not torn during those days of killing and anger. It was, in fact, the broken fabric of society that made Marikana possible,” said Madonsela.
She said the massacre, people stealing from the poor and health professionals who are on the front line, denying them personal protective equipment (PPE) or giving them faulty PPE just for greed, were an indication that South Africans have failed to remember.
“We need to remember what went wrong in the past so that we can confront that past, dismantle that past and build afresh,” Madonsela said.
Froneman said R32million had been spent on educating the children and siblings of victims of the massacre and that a memorial wall in honour of the deceased will soon be erected.
Among the beneficiaries of the 1608 Memorial Education Trust set up to educate the children and families of the victims of the Marikana massacre up to and including tertiary level, is University of Fort Hare PhD candidate Mandla Yawa, whose elder brother Cebisile Yawa was among the Lonmin mineworkers killed by police.