Marikana Commission lays blame for massacre at SAPS’ door

A miner worker covered in a blanket waits at “The Koppie” a small hill near the site of the shooting of 34 mine workers 2 years ago during the 2nd anniversary commemoration.

The blame for the August 2012 Marikana massacre has been laid squarely on the South African Police Services (SAPS). President Jacob Zuma, who released the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Thursday night, noted that all the ministers who were hauled before the Commission were largely absolved of responsibility.

“The Commission found that the executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on 16 August 2012 if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons,” Zuma said.

The Commission recommends that the National Prosecuting Authority should investigate the criminal liability of all police officers involved in the shootings.

Scrutiny, however, now falls on the top brass of the SAPS.

The Commission found that the decisions that lead to the massacre had not been made by police involved in the tactical operation but rather by Phiyega and other senior officials.

“The Commission also found that the decision that the strikers would be forcibly removed from the koppie by the police on 16 August if they did not voluntarily lay down their arms, was not taken by the tactical commanders on the ground,” Zuma said.

“The decision was instead taken by Lieutenant-General Mbombo, the North West Police Commissioner, and was endorsed by the SAPS leadership at an extraordinary session of the National Management Forum.”

The Commission recommends an inquiry into the fitness for office of both national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and the provincial police commissioner.

City Press has recently reported that Phiyega has turned down the offer of being deployed in the foreign service or elsewhere in the civil service.

According to some reports, much of the delay in the release of the report stemmed from uncertainty over Piyega’s position in the SAPS.

Other key findings include that:
– Lonmin failed to ensure the safety and security of its employees and did not respond appropriately to the outbreak of violence;
– accusations against Ramaphosa as having instigated the incident are “groundless”;
– no findings were made against the mining minister;
– NUM advised miners poorly by preventing them from speaking to Lonmin;
– Amcu officials did not exercise effective control over members;
– police should enforce laws concerning the carrying of “sharp items”; and
– the police service should be demilitarised and be more professional

Zuma, who released the findings at a briefing on Thursday, before the 30 June deadline he had earlier promised, said: “We should, as a nation learn from this painful episode. We should use it to build a more united, peaceful and cohesive society. Violence has no place in our democracy that we worked so hard to achieve and build.”

– Featured image of a miner at koppie in Marikana where the massacre took place, on the two-year anniversary of the event, by Ihsaan Hendricks.