The Star / 14 August 2018, 09:07am / Sibongile Mashaba
Johannesburg - Advocacy groups have warned of a second Marikana as the nation prepares to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the worst post-independence killing of protesters.
At least 34 Marikana mineworkers were gunned down on August 16, 2012, a day after a top-level meeting was held and a decision to end the strike was taken.
The advocacy groups on Monday warned that the alleged assault and use of pepper spray by police on a group of women during the #TotalShutDown march was a clear indication that more still needed to be done to curb the police's use of excessive force.
Speaking at the screening of the Imbokodo: Marikana Widows documentary and panel discussion at Wits University on Monday, Amandla.mobi founder Koketso Moeti said she strongly believed that police in the country were being used as buffer zones between citizens and those in power.
She said the use of barbed wire and teargas during the wave of #FeesMustFall protests was yet another example of police using force to stop protesters.
“It is very clear from these incidents that there has been no shift since Marikana, that Marikana still remains a possibility today and this is something that needs to change very fast.
National police commissioner General Kehla Sitole's spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, said the police did not participate in on Monday's discussion.
“It is a very sensitive matter. There are the Farlam Commission's rulings. There are things that we cannot discuss in the public domain (regarding Marikana),” Naidoo said.
Moeti noted that in the months leading up to the Marikana massacre, North West had been rocked by a number of protests over lack of service delivery.
Moeti said a number of people were killed by police during those protests across the province and that police had denied the injured access to healthcare.
“Even before there was a Marikana, the incidents leading up to it were that a Marikana could happen. In the same way the mineworkers who were fighting for a wage were expecting their employer to come talk to negotiate with them, (they) were instead met with the brutal force of the police.
"This is the same thing that happens so many times afterwards,” Moeti said.
“What we see is our police when people (leadership) do not care, show blatant disregard for actual human beings, our police are deployed as barriers, as buffer zones.
“This is not the role police should be playing,” Moeti said.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), which represents the families of the miners who were killed, said the prosecution of the police officers responsible for the bloody massacre was important.
“There were hundreds of policemen in Marikana on that day (August 16). Less than 20% (105) of them fired their weapons.
"The question is, why didn't the other 80% fire? And we need to get to a point where every policeman can think like the 80% in these types of circumstances,” Nomzamo Zondo, SERI director of litigation, said.
She said only former police commissioner Riah Phiyega had taken the fall for the killings.
In 2016, a commission of inquiry found that Phiyega was not fit to hold office and should be fired.
Another panellist, a law student at Wits, Nazia Dinat, said there were children who were now growing up without fathers.
“They will now face the undue pressure of growing up very fast,” Dinat said.