Marikana resident: “We want that this must not happen again”

    The much anticipated Marikana report, almost three years in the making and released by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday evening, has been broadly panned. But none have felt the disappointment so acutely as the families of the miners who died there, and the community from which they hailed. 

    The report on the findings of the Farlam commission of inquiry into the killings at Marikana in August 2012 came as something of a surprise. The president had possession of the report weeks ago and there was no indication of that the findings would be made public on Thursday until it was announced in the afternoon. Many people directly affected by the events at Marikana failed to even hear the president’s summation of the report as they were not informed about it in time to make arrangements to view or listen to the broadcast; in addition, according to reports, parts of Marikana experienced load shedding at the time of the broadcast.

    Naadira Munshi, a research fellow with the Socio-Economic Research Institute (Seri), which represents 36 families of the deceased, said Seri had tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get the president to agree to give them 48 hours notice before releasing the report so that the families could be properly informed.

    Instead, they found out through the media, late Thursday afternoon, that the report was to be released. There was not enough time to make proper arrangements for the families to hear the full statement; some caught only snippets or just the tail-end of it.

    It was a disappointment to the families, who had hoped that the report would bring some kind of closure, Munshi said.

    “There’s disappointment. The families want to know what is in the report … We are consulting with them and spending the day with them. I can’t really say what the mood is, because everyone’s just taken by shock,” she told The Daily Vox..

    Munshi said Seri intended to pursue a civil claim for compensation for the families.

    “We have to go forward regardless of the content of the report – I don’t think that the report is the end of the road. We just hope that there is some kind of justice for the families,” she said.

    Thumeka Magwangqana, chairwoman of Sikhala Sonke, a women’s group started by the Economic Freedom Fighters’ MP Primrose Sonti to empower the women of Marikana and care for the families of the affected miners, said she too had been taken by surprise by the release of the report.

    “I was on the way from Johannesburg when someone sent me a message on Facebook that Jacob Zuma will be releasing the report … The president promised to tell us within 48 hours before he should release the report, but now he did it without telling anyone,” she said.

    “Everybody was disappointed. I spoke to ladies that I’m living with in the yard and they are all disappointed.”

    “We want that this must not happen again … What I want the government to do is not about money. They (must) stand in Parliament and say they are sorry. They must come forward to these women and say sorry,” she said.

    Those who did get to hear Zuma’s comments were similarly unimpressed.

    Evelyn Seipati, a resident of Marikana, said the report was unfair and that there was “no way that they cannot blame Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma”.

    “The families are so sad, because it seems those miners were the wrong ones. They make it seem like they (the miners) are the ones who provoked the situation, but it wasn’t like that. Those police went to them at the koppie, because they wanted them to go back to work so that Ramaphosa’s shares could (increase) for his family,” she said.

    The Marikana Support Campaign on Friday slammed government’s sudden release of the report on Thursday despite an understanding that lawyers of the families of those slain on 16 August 2012 would be given 48 hours notice to prepare.

    “This behavior showed no regard for the victims, many of whom attended the commission day after day and have anticipated this day for almost three years,” campaign spokesperson Rehad Desai said in a statement.

    The Marikana Support Campaign’s Trevor Ngwane, who works at the University of Johannesburg’s Social Science Research Institute, said the report was “frightening”.

    “It protected the politicians and cast the blame on other parties. How could they blame Lonmin but still exonerate Mr Ramaphosa while Ramaphosa was a director at Lonmin?” he asked.

    “It was a good thing that because of the report, Phiyega’s fitness for office will be probed. The report was a letdown for activists and family members of the victims.”

    Reporting by Ra’eesa Pather and Qiniso Mbili

    Featured image of women at the 2nd anniversary of the Marikana shooting by Ihsaan Haffejee