Thirty four months after the start of the Farlam Commission, the release of the Marikana Report yesterday appears to confirm that "there is as yet no justice or accountability for the extreme violence visited upon" striking mine workers.
The statement of widows of the Marikana Massacre that was read onto the record of the Commission at its closing session, is in most respects confirmed by the findings of Judge Farlam and his co-Commissioners.
The widows drafted their statement with support from Khulumani Support Group, stating that "Together, we have come to our own understanding and conclusions about the death of our loved ones. We wish to place these before the Commission, as our perspective on these events and the way forward."
First, we are clear that the following are responsible for the deaths of our loved ones:
This conviction is based upon our own experiences of the events of August 2012.
The Responsibility of Lonmin:
We know that our loved ones were workers at Lonmin mine who were fighting for better conditions of employment, including a basic wage of R12 500 per month, which they hoped to win within the framework of our country’s labour relations law. They informed us of this intent when they first put forward their demands. When they were ignored by their employer Lonmin, they withdrew their labour and decided to stay on the mountain. This was an unprotected strike, not an illegal or criminal act. During that time we heard from the media that the company was worried about its financial losses. They expressed these losses as millions of rands lost each day. Our government also felt the pain as the rand weakened.
The Responsibility of the State / Government Officials:
The State we believe is culpable because their role as a democratic, elected government was to manage a peaceful and fair resolution of this labour dispute. This they clearly did not do. Together with Lonmin, they claimed that our loved ones were engaged in criminal acts rather than in a labour dispute, and they determined to end it by any means necessary. They must have been well aware of the potential death and destruction that could result from their actions, yet they went ahead with their decision to end the strike by force. We maintain that all of the violence and deaths resulted from these decisions by Lonmin and the government.
The Responsibility of the Police for Implementing Flawed Politically-Motivated Decisions
These decisions, and the violence that followed these failures, have brought massive harm and pain in our lives, as family members and dependents of those killed.
We therefore ask that the Commission put on record our demands for full and just redress. Such redress must be provided to families of all of those who died in the conflict, with no exceptions.
We concur with journalist Ranjeni Munusamy that Marikana is a story of utter shame. It is a story of how the blood, sweat and tears of the people who toil in the mines means "almost nothing to the rich and powerful who benefit from their toil and their votes". It is a continuing story of the evasion of accountability by those with the power to provide redress and to take measures for the transformation of the mining industry in South Africa.
The statement of the widows of the Marikana Massacre is attached.