Marikana – a mas­sive fail­ure of jus­tice

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

The fifth an­niver­sary of the Marikana mas­sacre is go­ing to pass us by with­out a sin­gle po­lice of­fi­cer in the dock for killing 34 strik­ing mine work­ers and in­jur­ing at least 72 on Au­gust 10 2012.

On that day, po­lice gunned down 17 mine work­ers at the Marikana kop­pie be­fore pur­su­ing flee­ing work­ers, killing a fur­ther 17 of them at the small kop­pie, at what is known today as Scene 2. Some of the flee­ing mine work­ers were hid­ing be­hind rocks when the po­lice killed them in cold blood. Oth­ers had been try­ing to sur­ren­der. Most were shot in the back.

Just why the of­fi­cers re­spon­si­ble for the most lethal use of po­lice force since the 1960 Sharpeville mas­sacre have not been pros­e­cuted for this crime beg­gars be­lief.

In March, we re­ported that former na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner Riah Phiyega was to top a list of 72 of­fi­cers iden­ti­fied for pros­e­cu­tion for their role in the mas­sacre. The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate told Par­lia­ment its in­ves­ti­ga­tions were at an ad­vanced stage and that charges would in­clude murder, as­sault, per­jury and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice.

So, why are we yet to see th­ese po­lice of­fi­cers in court? Two of the ex­cuses ad­vanced for this mon­u­men­tal fail­ure of jus­tice in­clude: no bud­get for crime scene re­con­struc­tion and a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and con­fu­sion over which cops used which guns, mak­ing bal­lis­tics in­ves­ti­ga­tions dif­fi­cult. We have money for many things in this country – why not for this?

Fail­ure to pur­sue the pros­e­cu­tions sends a mes­sage that the lives of poor, mi­grant work­ers are mean­ing­less. Or could it be that it is not a pri­or­ity be­cause the work­ers had re­jected a union that was favoured by the gov­ern­ing elite?

The mine work­ers al­leged to have killed union of­fi­cials, Lon­min se­cu­rity guards and po­lice of­fi­cers in the days be­fore the mas­sacre were rightly brought to book years ago. We now need jus­tice for the 34 mas­sa­cred men. But, as an­other year passes, we lose hope that their fam­i­lies will re­ceive it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.