August 16 must be declared a public holiday in honour of the 34 mineworkers killed by police during a labour unrest in Marikana four years ago, according to Anglican Bishop Johannes Seoka, who has become a familiar face in and around Marikana after 2012.
Speaking to The Citizen on the fourth anniversary of the massacre, Seoka believed government had never been interested in remembering those who died on that fateful day.
“Instead of honouring those fallen heroes, government has been working with Lonmin platinum mine and talking about developing the area. They have not been listening to the people on the ground, hence the anger from mineworkers, who believe those in power have long forgotten about them,” Seoka said.
“A monument was supposed to have been erected a long time ago in honour of those fallen heroes, but that has not happened. Workers have been calling for the day to be declared a public holiday, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears.”
Seoka said the only notable thing done by the mine was to employ the deceased’s relatives, some of whom had raised concerns around safety.
“A week ago, I was in Marikana and some of the women employed by the mine said they did not want to work underground due to safety issues,” Seoka said.
“The report from the Marikana commission was also released and [now suspended police commissioner] Riah Phiyega was made a scapegoat. But ever since, government has not sincerely apologised to those families.”
He said government had not organised any event in commemorating the day, but the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and other people had worked hard in preparation to honour the deceased today.
Among others, a cultural event was scheduled to kick off at 9am, followed by a prayer session at 10am.
Speeches would also be delivered by leaders from various political parties and relatives, culminating in Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa’s keynote address.
“I want to stress that this event is open to everyone.”
On Sunday, North West provincial government spokesperson Brian Setswambung said they were yet to receive an invitation to attend the commemoration. He also denied government had forgotten about Marikana, adding that a lot had been done in terms of developing the area.