Marikana miners’ families to sue Lonmin and top SA politicians

Crosses erected at the koppie as a symbol of lives lost on 16 August 2012 (Pic by Muzi Mzoyi)

Families of the slain and injured Marikana miners will file a civil and private prosecution against Lonmin, Cyril Ramaphosa and Nathi Mthethwa, the Marikana Support Campaign has said.

In an interview with Elitsha, Rehad Desai from the campaign also stated that the families will also lodge a defamation case against President Jacob Zuma for the comments he made that Marikana workers were killed to stop them from killing other people. The campaign has described the Farlam Commission report as highly disappointing and “a travesty of so called justice processes in South Africa.”

Nkanini informal settlement where most miners working at Marikana live

Desai said that even though there was good evidence given to the commission, the findings and the recommendations contradict the evidence.  “Having a commission of enquiry was a shoddy compromise in that there was a strong case against all those who were involved, including Nathi Mthethwa, Cyril Ramaphosa, Susan Shabangu and Lonmin officials.”

The MSC has also expressed concern that the overall tone of the report heavily leans towards a vilification of the strikers and according to Desai this is demonstrated by a recommendation that scores of miners be investigated.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has criticized the Commission’s findings against the union. Bongisisa Gwiliza an AMCU shopsteward said that the union was not responsible for the massacre as the union’s president, Joseph Mathunjwa was the one who was pleading with the workers to give up their weapons and leave the koppie. “The government had already planned how it was going to deal with the workers,” said Gwiliza. The Commission found that AMCU officials did not exercise effective control to ensure lawful conduct of the strikers. Gwiliza says that the workers sang provocative songs because they were betrayed and subsequently attacked by the National Union of Mineworkers.

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The National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu stated that the criticism around the union’s conduct during and after the Marikana tragedy should serve as a lesson.

The United Front has also weighed in on the report and has criticized the Commission for failing to find anyone political responsible for the terrible massacre of striking mineworkers at Marikana.“ The Commission’s bias and recommendations fall far short of justice for Marikana workers. It also falls far short in telling the truth about the super exploitation of black workers at the service of Lonmin and other capitalist shareholders,” reads the press release.

Sikhala Sonke, a women’s organization of Marikana that was started after the massacre said that they were not informed as expected by the president. All parties had agreed that Zuma would give a 48-hour notice period before he released the report, whether it’s on the scheduled day or before. Wendy Pretorius from Sikhala Sonke says that there was loadshedding in Marikana on the day that Zuma released the report.“ We thought they were gonna put up a big screen at the koppie where we would watch but we could only get the information from TV journalists that were in the area” said Pretorius.

Lonmin has not responded to the Farlam Commission report yet even though it has been more than two weeks after its release. The report found that the company did not respond effectively to the outbreak of violence and it instisted that the non-striking workers should come to work even though they knew they would not protect them.

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The report also criticized Lonmin’s implementation of undertaking of social and labour plans. A recent report by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) revealed that Lonmin has only built built three show houses even though according to the Mining Charter, Lonmin is obliged to build 5500 houses for mineworkers over five years.  The AIDC report also uncovered that Lonmin repatriated at least R400 million a year in profits to Bermuda between 1999 and 2012, to avoid paying corporate tax in South Africa.

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