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S. Africa’s Zuma to release Marikana mine massacre report

President Jacob Zuma was on Thursday due to release the official report into the police killing of 34 South African striking workers at Marikana mine in 2012, his office said.

The report into the shooting was handed to the president on March 31, after more than two years of hearings plagued by delays.

Rights groups and lawyers representing the killed and injured miners have been clamouring since then for Zuma to make the document public.

The president’s office said the report would finally be published after he addresses the nation on public television on Thursday night.

The August 16 shooting was the worst violence South Africa has witnessed since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Days after the killings, Zuma set up the Farlam Commission of Inquiry to investigate the events at Marikana, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

The commission was granted powers to suggest names of individuals to be criminally charged.

But proceedings were plagued with delays from the start and the deadline was repeatedly extended.

The police were heavily criticised during the commission, accused of using excessive force against the miners, and of a widespread cover-up.

In the days leading up to the attack, 10 others were murdered in violence around the platinum mine — including non-striking miners, security guards and two police officers who were hacked to death.

Another 72 strikers were wounded in the shooting.

– ‘Revenge’ –

The labour unrest had also been exacerbated by a platinum sector turf war between two unions: the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, and the National Union of Mineworkers which is aligned to the ruling African National Congress party.

Mining house Lonmin was also widely criticised during the inquiry for failing to engage with the workers’ wage demands.

Lawyers for the families of the dead and injured miners’ labelled the shooting an act of revenge by the police for their fallen colleagues, asking that senior police officials be investigated for murder.

Several legal teams then recommended that senior officials — including former police minister Nathi Mthethwa and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega — be investigated on murder charges.

South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, then a non-executive director of Lonmin and a senior official in the ruling ANC, also came under fire for his part in the incident.

Evidence presented to the commission revealed he had contacted the ministers of police and mineral resources in the days leading up to the massacre, pushing for police intervention.

Lawyers for the injured miners called this “political interference” the catalyst for the shooting.

Ramaphosa maintained he was simply trying to prevent further violence.

The police too defended their actions as self-defence in the face of the “panga (machete)-wielding strikers.”

They shifted blame to Lonmin for threatening to fire the striking workers, claiming it fanned the flames of violence. The mining house has denied any responsibility.

The report will be published just two days after Zuma appeared to defend the police’s actions, suggesting they were aimed at protecting people.

“Those people in Marikana had killed people, and the police were stopping them from killing people,” he said Tuesday.

He back-pedalled a day later saying all Marikana deaths must be condemned.