Rights group demands justice for Marikana three years on
As South Africa gears for the third anniversary of the Marikana massacre of miners on Sunday, Amnesty International Friday called for the police implicated in the killings to be suspended.
The shooting of 34 striking mineworkers on August 16, 2012 was the worst violence involving the security forces since the end of apartheid in 1994, and shocked South Africa and the world.
Amnesty wants the officers implicated in the shooting, including the head of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Riah Phiyega, to be suspended.
“Anything less will result in the continued lack of accountability for the unlawful killings by police on 16 August 2012 at Marikana,” said a statement.
“Three years on, not a single member of the SAPS has been suspended or held to account.”
The rights group also urged President Jacob Zuma to take action.
“With police authorities closing ranks in the face of strong findings against them in the Farlam Commission report, it is vital that President Zuma shows strong leadership and takes action against those right at the top of the police service,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for Southern Africa.
The miners were gunned down after the police were deployed to break up a wildcat strike that had turned violent at the Lonmin-owned Marikana platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg.
Ten others were killed in the days preceding the incident, including two police officers and four non-striking workers.
The workers were demanding better wages and living conditions.
An official inquiry established by Zuma released its findings into the massacre in June, putting much of the blame on the police’s crowd dispersal strategy.
But the report failed to recommend any compensation.
Opposition parties have also joined the fray, bemoaning the lack of political responsibility for the mineworkers’ death.
“Marikana was a murder that was facilitated in clear daylight, and under the political influence and supervision of politicians — many of whom continue to enjoy [the] privileges of this house,” Julius Malema, the leader of Economic Freedom Fighters party said in parliament on Thursday.
Lawyers for the victims’ families and survivors are seeking compensation from the South African government.
A series of events to mark the anniversary on Sunday are planned in Marikana and other parts of the country.