President Zuma: wrap up Marikana commission

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Campaigners have called the Marikana commission of inquiry a “worthless exercise that buried the truth” after President Jacob Zuma this week said it should wrap up by July 31.

Zuma proclaimed in a government gazette published on May 5 that the commission would then have six weeks to hand over its report.

If this timeframe were followed, it would be exactly two years after the fatal killing of striking Lonmin mineworkers on August 16, 2012, that the commission’s report would be submitted.

The Marikana Support Campaign and Right 2 Know Campaign, which issued a joint statement this weekend, said this was not enough time to hear all evidence to build a case for the mineworkers against government and mining companies.

“A large proportion of the remaining three months will be taken up by Mr. X who, under the witness protection programme, will give evidence on how his colleagues planned to attack the police (on August 16),” it said.

“Mr. X has a statement that appears to be written by SAPS (police) lawyers. He is being paid to give evidence and will be interviewed in camera. He will not have to face the families of the dead people he and the police are accusing.

It added: “Whatever little time remains after Mr. X has given evidence will be for Lonmin, the company that colluded with SAPS and with government to ensure that an unprotected strike in the platinum sector was crushed.

“After twenty plodding months, legal teams at the commission will have to rush through the evidence of Lonmin’s senior executives in order to conclude on time.”
It also said rushing through the commission would forego a “serious examination of the role of the government or Lonmin, who worked closely with the police, in this massacre”.

“The Marikana commission of inquiry will not have the evidence it needs to make any meaningful recommendations. This leaves the 270 injured and arrested mineworkers accused of killing their own colleagues, in jeopardy.

“A commission that was established to uncover the truth about a massacre will be remembered as an expensive, worthless exercise that buried the truth, a whitewash and a low point in South African justice.”

But Zuma had initially launched the commission in August 2012, with the intention that it should wrap up by April 30 this year.

The inquiry was established, according to government gazette, to “investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana… which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, more than 70 person being injured, approximately 250 people being arrested and damage to destruction to property”.

Campaigners said in a statement the commission has so far uncovered that “4000 rounds of ammunition and four mortuary vans were ordered in advance” of the August 16 killing.

Campaigners want the commission to probe police minister Nathi Mthetwa, mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu, or “any other government minister due to come before the commission”.

The Marikana Support Campaign has the backing of a number of international bodies, including Amnesty International South Africa, Advocates for Transformation, Centre for Applied Legal Studies and Lawyers for Human Rights.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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