Call for public holiday to mark Marikana tragedy

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By Kailene Pillay Time of article published17m ago

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Activists and the families fighting for justice for the mineworkers killed in the Marikana massacre want August 16 to be declared a public holiday to commemorate the tragic shooting of the mineworkers in 2012.

On Monday, the country marked the ninth anniversary of the Marikana tragedy, when 34 miners died in a hail of police bullets.

During a memorial held by The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the families of the deceased said they had not yet found closure.

Noor Nieftagodien, of the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), said it was important to have a public holiday to mark the tragedy, “not to braai but because we want to say that we will never forget what happened on August 16, 2012”.

“More than that, we also want the public holiday because we don’t ever want to forget 150 years of mining in South Africa, that had adverse consequences, and that has killed tens of thousands of black mineworkers across the southern African region.

’’We want to remember, we don’t want to forget what mining has done to the people of the southern African region,” Nieftagodien said.

He said the families of the Marikana victims had not received a genuine apology, either from mining companies or from the governing party.

“Where is the justice when President Cyril Ramaphosa is still not prepared to go and meet the widows, to apologise, directly to them?

’’Where is the justice when we learn that in the last year, the Marikana mine now owned by Sibanye Stillwater has doubled their value?” he said.

Amcu said it had written two letters to the Presidency to speed up the process of compensation for the Marikana victims and their families, but said it has not received a reply.

The workers were demanding a wage of R12 500 when police shot and killed 34 of their colleagues at Wonderkop Koppie outside Rustenburg in North West.

General secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Zwelinzima Vavi, who at the time of the massacre was the general secretary of Cosatu, said the Marikana massacre partially catalysed the birth of Saftu.

Vavi said the Marikana massacre was a “predetermined concomitant action, not the incompetence of police in crowd management”. He said the real role-players were the political officials at the time.

“Saftu reiterates that the following role-players should be charged for premeditating and ordering the cold murder of the mineworkers in Marikana. The then minister of Minerals, Susan Shabangu, who is also a former unionist, clearly collaborated with Ramaphosa in ensuring that the state killed those mine workers,” Vavi said..

“The minister of Police at the time, Nathi Mthethwa, cannot for a minute claim he did not know that the police had decided that August 16, 2012 was the ‘D-Day’.

“The president at the time, Jacob Zuma, who cannot make a claim that he did not know what his ministers were doing to aid the capitalist class refusing to pay workers a decent wage, is as guilty as Cyril Ramaphosa.”

Paying tribute at the Amcu memorial was Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who offered comforting words to the families of the deceased.

He said the families depended on the income of those who died, and needed healing and closure after nine years.

“There are adults among us, who were children at that time when their fathers were taken by bullets from guns that belonged to our state.

’’How do we console them? How do we explain to them why their fathers are gone? Because it should not have happened. It cannot be justified,” Buthelezi said.

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