A highly-politicised three-year commemoration of the Marikana killings saw politicians jostling to promote their affiliations in Rustenburg on Sunday.
“Marikana is another name of the EFF,” Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema told the approximately 20 000 people gathered at the dusty site where 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead at a Lonmin mine in Marikana in the North West on August 16 in 2012.
“Marikana is EFF, EFF is Marikana,” declared Malema.
The EFF is demanding R10m compensation for the family of every mineworkers killed and R5m for every injured mineworker.
Malema also gave a racial slant when laying the blame for the killings.
He said Lonmin CEO Ben Magara was worse than white people.
“We had hoped that a black person will understand, only to find that the CEO is black outside and white inside. He represented the company to defend murder.”
Magara was listening to Malema as he spoke to the crowd. “Tell him,” one man yelped from the crowds.
Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guard were killed a week before the August 16 killings. Malema said that the ten people who died before August 16 were part of criminal activity.
“I heard people said 44 people were killed; we only know 34 people: The other ten is a criminal matter that must be investigated,” he said.
“I am not confused, there were 34 mineworkers killed. On August 16 the State and Lonmin colluded to kill mineworkers.”
Earlier Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane told the crowd that: “the best tribute to the memory of those who fell on the ground before us will be to vote the ANC out of power”.
“The tragedy of Marikana could have been avoided by an accountable, responsive government,” said Maimane.
He said President Jacob Zuma must pay back the money from his Nkandla private residence and use it to build houses in Marikana.
“Pay back the Nkandla money and bring it here in Marikana to build houses,” Maimane said.
He also called for the firing of national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and then-police minister Nathi Mthethwa, who now is the country’s arts and culture minister.
Maimane promised the crowd that the DA would ensure that a compensation fund would be established to benefit the families of the deceased mineworkers.
“The DA will do all we can in Parliament to compel the government to fulfil its duty and provide compensation to the widows and family members.”
Family members of slain miners also spoke. One daughter told the crowd she had been 15 when her father was shot and killed: “What happened at Marikana, it shocked us”.
The ANC did not attend the commemoration ceremony organised by trade union AMCU (Association of Mining and Construction Union), who had offered an open invitation to anyone who wanted to attend.
In a media statement issued on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma said “as government, we stand with all the people of Marikana and the people of the Eastern Cape from where many of those who died came… .[as well as] the people of South Africa … who were horrified and shocked by the tragedy.”
Supporters and family members of the slain mine workers af Marikana take part in the commemoration. (File, News24)
Following the killings, Zuma subsequently appointed retired Judge Ian Farlam to chair a judicial commission of inquiry into the violence.
The commission’s final report was handed to Zuma on March 31, who released it to the public on June 25.
Zuma still needs to decide on the future of Phiyega. The report recommended an investigation into her fitness to hold office.
Zuma on Sunday said the implementation of the commission’s recommendations were being taken seriously by government.
Yet, speaking at the commemoration ceremony, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza -who represented the families of the miners at the commission – ended his address, simply declaring the commission’s report as: “what a disgrace.”