Editorials 17.8.2016 07:09 am

Truth of Marikana has to be acknowledged

Picture: Michel Bega.

Picture: Michel Bega.

As the police chief, Phiyega should be held accountable for the actions of her officers. But she should not be a sacrificial lamb.

Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of Marikana massacre during which 34 mineworkers were killed in a deadly wage strike. What happened in Marikana was the bloodiest massacre by the police since the dawn of democracy.

That day will forever remain one of the saddest moments in the history of our country. That there has been no accountability for this mass killing by those who presided over it is a slap in the face for the families of the miners whose lives were brutally terminated by state-sanctioned violence.

Yes, there has been an inquiry into the matter. However, apportioning blame to suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and her former North West counterpart Zukiswa Mbombo while those under whose instructions they were acting are let off the hook is not going to help families of the victims find closure. As the police chief, Phiyega should be held accountable for the actions of her officers. But she should not be a sacrificial lamb. Her bosses, who carried the political responsibility, must also face the music.

We are mindful that the Marikana Commission of Inquiry found that the executive played no role in the tragic events of August 16, 2012, but we find it mindboggling that Nathi Mthethwa, the political head of the police service, was absolved from any wrongdoing by the commission.

The commission’s failure to hold any senior politician to account gives credence to accusations that its findings were a complete whitewash designed to shield political heavyweights such as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was at the time a Lonmin non-executive director, from accountability.

Marikana is clearly the biggest blemish on post-apartheid SA’s human rights track record. Never must workers’ protected right to demand a living wage be deemed a treasonous act worthy of being met with murderous force by the security forces. To ensure this never happens again, the full truth behind the slaughter must be exposed and those guilty held accountable.

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