The prosecution of senior members of the South African Police Service (Saps) “is an admission of state culpability for the murder, shooting and wrongful arrests of striking mineworkers in August 2012”, the Marikana Support Campaign says.
The campaign’s Rehad Desai and Trevor Ngwane, in welcoming a statement by the presidency this week on steps taken by departments to implement the recommendations of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, which was released in June 2015, into the massacre, said this was a very important advance.
“The update states that criminal charges have been, or will be, brought against certain senior members of Saps,” they said.
“This is an important advancement and is to be welcomed.
“Four and a half years after the massacre, it is an admission of state culpability for the murder, shooting and wrongful arrests of striking mineworkers in August 2012.”
They added, however, that President Jacob Zuma had omitted any mention of Lonmin platinum mine and its involvement in the dispersal of striking miners by police.
Forty-four people in total were killed during the strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana. Miners gathered on a koppie in the area during the strike, demanding a wage increase.
On August 16, 34 people were shot dead by police.
Some were filmed being shot on live television by news stations, making it one of CNN’s top 10 stories in that year. In the previous week, 10 people were killed, including two police officers and two Lonmin security guards.
The Marikana Support Campaign added that the evidence presented to the Marikana Commission of Inquiry “strongly suggested Lonmin executives enabled and led this deadly police operation”.
“It is also inconceivable that police would have acted with such force without the go-ahead from Cabinet and, therefore, the prosecutions of senior police officials can only be the beginning of revealing the chain of command that led to the killings,” they said.
Meanwhile, the justice department has confirmed that several cases, including for murder and attempted murder and defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice, have been opened against police officers involved in the Marikana operation in August 2012. These include:
- A criminal case against an SA Police Services major-general for allegedly defeating the ends of justice for failing to exercise command and control.
- A case against a brigadier for allegedly defeating the ends of justice.
- An attempted murder case against some police officers with regards to miners hospitalised with gunshot wounds.
- A major-general faces four counts of murder for the deaths of two police officers and two of the strikers and six counts of attempted murder in respect of five injured miners and one police officer. Investigations found that the major-general, responsible for overall command of the Saps operation at Marikana, was remiss in his conduct on August 13, 2012, which led to the deaths of two police officers, as well as three strikers. He also allegedly ignored the advice of experienced public order police officers on crowd control and contravened the Saps standing order #262 relating to this.
- A brigadier heading the provincial detectives unit, another brigadier who was in charge of detectives at the detention centre and a major have been charged for defeating the ends of justice by concealing a death in police custody.
- A colonel, a warrant officer and a constable have all been charged for the murder of a striker, Mr Sokhanyile.
- A recommendation has been made that the colonel should also be charged with defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice for falsely testifying at the Marikana Commission about Mr Sokhanyile’s death.
- With regards to death from the delay in providing medical attention, reports indicated that a major-general diverted medical personnel for the injured strikers at Scene 1. The commission recommended an investigation, which is still not yet concluded.
- Forensic, ballistic and other evidence, including the authentication of incident footage are still outstanding. Also, indications are that the police might have tampered with the crime scene.