Me­mo­rial for South African miner mas­sacre turns po­lit­i­cal

The China Post - - FEATURE -

The lead­ers of South Africa’s two main op­po­si­tion par­ties joined thou­sands of peo­ple north of Johannesburg Sun­day to mark the third an­niver­sary of the Marikana mas­sacre of 34 strik­ing plat­inum min­ers.

The shoot­ing of the minework­ers on Aug. 16, 2012 was the worst vi­o­lence in­volv­ing the se­cu­rity forces since the end of apartheid in 1994, and shocked South Africa and the world.

The me­mo­rial cer­e­mony took place at Won­derkop Hill north­west of Johannesburg where the mas­sacre oc­curred, and was at­tended by Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Demo­cratic Al­liance and Julius Malema, the fire­brand leader of the rad­i­cal Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) party.

The min­ers were gunned down af­ter the po­lice were de­ployed to break up a wild­cat strike that had turned vi­o­lent at the Lon­mi­nowned Marikana plat­inum mine, which is about 130 kilo­me­ters (80 miles) from Johannesburg.

Ten oth­ers were killed in the days pre­ced­ing the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing two po­lice of­fi­cers and four non-strik­ing work­ers.

“The 16th of Au­gust is about Lon­min work­ing with the state to kill black peo­ple,” Malema said at the podium to cheers from the crowd.

The vic­tims, he said, had fallen at the hands of a “mur­der­ous regime led by the ANC (African Na­tional Congress) and its brain­less pres­i­dent.”

“We are here to­day to re­mem­ber those fight­ers,” he said.

‘Never again’

Speak­ing af­ter him, Maimane said the con­di­tions un­der which the mas­sacre took place three years ago had not changed.

“This ANC gov­ern­ment is pro­tect­ing one per­son, who is Pres­i­dent (Ja­cob) Zuma, in­stead of pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of South Africa,” he said.

No rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the gov­ern­ment nor of the rul­ing ANC were present at the me­mo­rial and no of­fi­cial cer­e­mony has ever been held in South Africa.

Ear­lier Zuma is­sued a

state- ment say­ing he hoped the an­niver­sary would “unite” all South Africans.

“No­body sup­ports the hor­ren­dous loss of life that oc­curred in Marikana,” he said.

“We must com­mit our­selves to en­sur­ing that never again would a strike turn so vi­o­lent as to lead to such a sense­less loss of life in a free and demo­cratic South Africa.”

He said the rec­om­men­da­tions of a long-awaited re­port into the shoot­ing, pub­lished in June, were “be­ing taken se­ri­ously” by the gov­ern­ment.

In its find­ings, the com­mis­sion of in­quiry called for a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the po­lice who were in­volved in the in­ci­dent but it cleared se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of any re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Ear­lier this week, lawyers for the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims filed a civil suit against the gov­ern­ment de­mand­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the loss of earn­ings, grief and shock in­curred.

The EFF has vowed to take ac­tion to en­sure the “po­lit­i­cal elite” be­hind the 2012 killings would be jailed.

AFP

Peo­ple gather next to can­dles and tributes to the mine work­ers who were killed dur­ing the Marikana mas­sacre at a cer­e­mony mark­ing the third an­niver­sary of the mas­sacre of 34 strik­ing plat­inum min­ers, near Rusten­burg, South Africa, Sun­day, Aug. 16.

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