Marikana: Families must come first

The following remarks were made by the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, following the release of the report by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into Marikana. The Leader was accompanied to Marikana by DA North West leaders including Provincial Leader, Joe McGluwa MP, Winston Rabotapi MP, Leon Basson MP, and Herman Groenewald MP.

Almost three years ago, in August 2012, 44 lives were lost in the greatest tragedy since the dawn of our democracy in 1994.

We are here today to honour the memory of those who died, and to fight for justice on their behalf. They were not just men; they were brothers, sons, fathers and bread winners.

We owe it to them to make sure that those they left behind are not forgotten. For too long their families and loved ones have been waiting for answers and for justice.

But last week when President Zuma released the Farlam Commission Report on Marikana, they were only left with more questions about who was ultimately responsible for the massacre.

I have met with some of the families of those who died, and have also spoken members of the community in Marikana who are still awaiting justice for those among them who were killed. I have heard their voices and my heart goes out to them. They still bear the scars of that fateful day. They feel that they have been denied their right to know the truth and to see justice take its course.

It is an insult to them that three years later not a single person has been criminally prosecuted or taken political responsibility for the tragic events.

The Report that was supposed to provide some sense of closure has now called for further investigations. But how many more years will it be before those responsible are held to account?

The Constitution clearly vests political accountability for the South African Police Service with the Minister and National Commissioner; at the very least former Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa and the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, should take political responsibility for the events that occurred under their watch.

There is something very wrong with a system that allows those who presided over the slaughter to remain in office without any penalties.

The lives of those who perished matter! Their families matter!

We elected a democratic government in 1994 so that we would never again have to see images of our fellow countrymen gunned down by the police service that is meant to protect us.

We chose democracy so that the state security apparatus would be accountable to the people and would not be used as a weapon against them.

But today our police service has become increasingly militarised with the President threatening to revisit Apartheid era laws to suppress dissent.

We simply cannot stand for this. We can never allow what happened at Marikana to happen again, and we cannot allow the principles on which our democracy was founded to be trampled into the ground by a self-serving government.

I am here today because I want to tell you that the DA believes that the families of the victims of Marikana deserve better than the disgraceful treatment they have received.

That is why the DA will be fighting to make sure that those responsible are held to account, no matter how well they are connected. The value of a human life cannot be made less in order to protect those with political connections.

We will also be fighting to make sure that government is made to pay for the loss that has been suffered. No amount of money can make up for what happened – but the families of victims deserve to be taken care of.

Over the past few days the DA has called for a number of actions to be taken to right the wrongs of Marikana. We have called for Mthethwa and Phiyega to be fired; for all involved to be criminally investigated; for SAPS to be reformed into a better trained and well-equipped service; and for President Zuma to account to the nation in Parliament for this human tragedy.

But most importantly, we have undertaken to fight in Parliament for compensation for those who were affected by the tragedy.

When Parliament reconvenes in August we will be presenting the Marikana Victims Compensation Special Appropriation Bill to the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene. We hope that this Bill can serve as the framework for the fair compensation of the dependants of the victims of Marikana.

This Bill by no means exonerates Lonmin and other stakeholders from their responsibility to those who were killed or injured, as was found by the Commission.  We urge Lonmin to undertake a process to compensate the dependents of their employees accordingly. All those who had a hand in the escalation of the events of August 2012, including the Executive, SAPS, Lonmin and the Unions, have a shared obligation to see that justice is done.

Our nation will never forget this tragedy, but let us work together to bring closure for those who are affected most deeply by it.

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Mmusi Maimane, DA Federal Leader, Leon Basson (MP) and Joe McGluwa, DA North West Leader show their respects at the kopje where the Marikana miners died.

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The DA laid a wreath in honour of those who lost their lives in Marikana.

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DA Federal Leader Mmusi Maimane with the widow, Ouma Tsotetsi at her Marikana home.

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DA Federal Leader with the widow of Frans Mabelani, Ouma Tsotetsi and her daughter, Karabo.

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