It’s been four years since striking Marikana miners were shot dead by police and some left injured. And in the 1 460 days since the massacre, the families of those who died and those now unfit to work are still not being compensated. More than R1 billion is being sought from government, the Lonmin Platinum Mine and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa by about 300 miners who were injured and the families of 34 others who died during police dispersal operations on August 16, 2012.
This is according to advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented the miners during the Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the shootings, which was instituted by President Jacob Zuma.
“These claims were launched last year. Nothing has come out of the effort for claims. The costs efforts are continuing and hopefully it will culminate in court sometime next year,” Mpofu said.
He added that miners and families of the miners have been left frustrated as regards compensation.
“It’s extremely frustrating to the clients, more than to me. They have waited for four years – and some of them are severely injured and unable to work,” Mpofu said. For the victims of injuries, Mpofu said, “it’s as if it [Marikana] happened yesterday”.
“They are still experiencing emotions when those of us interact with them. They are still emotional about this [not having been compensated and about what happened on that day].”
According to the Marikana Support Campaign’s Trevor Ngwane, some of the miners who were killed or injured were breadwinners and many had supported extended families.
“They came from the poorest regions in the Eastern Cape,” said Ngwane. “So their money kept whole villages alive and economically viable.”
He charged at government for “not doing the right thing”.
“There is a need for compensation to help the people left injured, the families and villages. The government is wrong not to proactively address this issue. “It looks as if they are trying to pay as little money as possible, when they should be thinking about the needs of the people.” Ngwane pointed to government itself calling the Marikana occurence a tragedy that “should never have happened”.
“The commission did [mention] the need for compensation, so they [government] should realise how important it is.
“We are saying never again – for workers struggling to earn a a living wage to be gunned down was terrible, especially since these mineral resources do not benefit those [who live] in the country.
“We need a government and policy that ensures that the resources [mined] benefit the working class and the poor. The struggle continues,” he said.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has accused Lonmin of making misleading statements, particularly about the building of housing units for its mineworkers.
In the report released yesterday, titled “Smoke and Mirrors”, Amnesty International says Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana exposes how very little has changed for the approximately 20 000 miners, many of whom were still living in squalor despite legally binding commitments made by the company.
“The catastrophic events of August 2012 should have been a decisive wake-up call to Lonmin,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for southern Africa.
Muchena stressed that the company’s failure to improve housing was baffling. In response to an earlier report, the mining company, through an official, had told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that the living conditions of miners were “truly appalling” and the company therefore acknowledged that this had contributed to a breakdown in relations and trust between Lonmin and its workforce.
Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey told The Citizen that a commemorative prayer session, as well as a moment of silence, would be observed in honour of the fallen mineworkers between 7.45am and 8.30am today. – Steven Tau
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