Johannesburg - As South Africa marks the ninth anniversary of the Marikana killings on Monday, some have called for August 16 to become a national holiday as sign of respect to the miners who died in the country’s first post-apartheid massacre.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute’s executive director, Nomzamo Zondo, said the enabling of this as a holiday would be a sign of remorse from the state and would offer some comfort to the families of the 34 miners who died at the hands of the police in 2012.
The institute has been representing some of the miners’ families in court.
“Marikana cannot stop being a sore wound until the current government recognises that it was a post-apartheid massacre and responds in a way that acknowledges their culpability in the deaths of these miners. They killed people during a labour dispute. The least they could do is recognise the day,” Zondo said.
She said R100 million had been paid to the families by the state but some of those who were injured had still not been paid.
Zondo said more money had been spent on the Farlam Commission and the defence of the police.
“If you are to look at the cost of the massacre, it’s about eight times what they paid the families. The state is treating this like a car accident that happened on the N1. This is a historical event that saw the state killing people that depended on them,” she said.
Zondo said the Marikana widows were also not happy that the mining company previously known as Lonmin had placed a monument at one of its premises but not at the koppie where the miners died. The widows were also unhappy that the names of their family members were misspelt and in some cases the wrong names appeared.
“What is important to the families is that their loved ones are never forgotten, so the commemorative events are a moment to reflect on whether justice has been served. There are problems with the Sibanye monument and there are talks of another monument,” Zondo said.
She said the important thing about the situation was an apology from the state and the need for full truth about what really led to the deaths of the miners.
“We still want minutes of the police meeting that happened before the massacre. Why are they not producing those minutes? What we need is an assurance that this will never happen again,” Zondo said.
It was still unclear if President Cyril Ramaphosa would make the long awaited apology he told the nation he would offer to the Marikana widows.