SERI decries lack of justice and accountability for Marikana massacre victims

SERI decries lack of justice and accountability for Marikana massacre victims

SERI decries lack of justice and accountability for Marikana massacre victims

Johannesburg – The Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) has slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for not having made progress in prosecuting the Marikana massacre crimes following the deaths of 34 miners on August 16, 2012.

This comes as the country commemorates 11 years since the tragedy following a protest over wages that turned deadly, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 others leading up to the bloodbath.

SERI says it has been fighting alongside 36 families for justice to prevail.

This comes after the families, in 2015, totalling 320 claimants, launched their civil claim seeking an apology from the government and damages for loss of support, medical expenses, general damages and constitutional damages.

With no apology in sight, the State has dragged its feet and started paying out settlements for loss of support claims to 34 of the 36 families, with payments made between August 2018 and September 2019.

In a statement this week, the institute said that in 2019, it received an offer for loss of support for the 35th family, but this excluded a family member, and is yet to be finalised.

‘’Concerning the 36th family, the State’s position is that it would not compensate the family for loss of support as it believes that the deceased miner did not have a duty to support his unemployed siblings and their children,’’ the institute claims.

Regarding criminal justice, SERI said justice has not been realised by the victims as only nine police officers have been prosecuted to date.

‘’Four police officers were charged with crimes relating to defeating the ends of justice and concealing the circumstances surrounding the deaths. In 2021, all four officers, including former North West Deputy Police Commissioner, Major General William Mpembe, were acquitted.’’

‘’The officers have been charged with the death of mineworker Mr Pumzile Sokanyile. This trial commenced in May 2021 and is yet to conclude. All this time, the families whose loved ones were killed on August 13 and 16, 2012, continue to bear the brunt of delayed justice through slow-paced prosecutions,’’ SERI said.

When it comes to the government and ANC leaders, SERI said both then-president Jacob Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa have not taken responsibility for the violent deaths of the 34 miners.

‘’Over the past 11 years, neither former president Jacob Zuma nor President Cyril Ramaphosa have ever visited the families to tender an apology for the loss of their loved ones. In February 2018 (during the State of the Nation address) and in April 2018 (at the funeral of Winnie Mandela), President Cyril Ramaphosa repeated a promise he made to visit the widows and families and to apologise to them. However, that has yet to take place. Instead, the State has denied that the families are legally entitled to the apology and dragged its feet in terms of compensatory redress by having only settled on one of the five areas for compensation: loss of support and accountability, while at the same time, the State has shouldered the cost of the legal defence of police officers standing trial, at times affording individuals separate legal teams.’’

‘’For example, the legal costs of former Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s litigation challenging the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry were reported to have reached R5,5 million in August 2021. In contrast, the families have collectively been represented by three senior State prosecutors,’’ SERI said.

As the country commemorates 11 years of the tragedy, the institute has called for the government to prioritise the victims of the massacre.

‘’We call on the South African government to prioritise the victims of the Marikana massacre by apologising to the families and survivors of the massacre. We call on the mine that acquired Lonmin, Sibanye Stillwaters, to play its role in bringing justice to the families by acknowledging the role that the mine played in the massacre and to take sincere steps to assist the families in their search for healing by engaging in a victim-centred and led reparatory initiative. We call on the State to take the steps to prosecute those responsible for the massacre, ranging from state officials to representatives of the mine who are accused of being involved.’’

‘’Finally, we also call on the state to expedite finalising all outstanding compensatory claims,’’ it said.

The Star