STATEMENT ON MARIKANA MASSACRE COMMEMORATION RALLY AUG. 16
(The following press release from Marikana Massacre Anniversary Organising Committee was received by e-mail. The sender verified the statement.)
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE MARIKANA COMMEMORATION RALLY 16 AUGUST 2013 Issued by the Marikana Massacre Anniversary Organising Committee For Immediate release
Commemorate the Marikana Massacre. They died for a living wage The struggle for R12,500 continues
The survivors of the Marikana massacre, Lonmin workers and families of the deceased have mandated the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (AMCU) together with the South African Council of Churches, their legal representatives from the ongoing commission of inquiry, as well as the broad- based Marikana Support Campaign, to finalise the logistics and plans for a commemoration rally to be held on August 16th at the ‘Koppie’ in Marikana.
People are to assemble at 10H00, whereupon the cultural programme will start. The main programme is scheduled to start at 12H00.
The theme of the day is informed by the immense loss suffered on 16 August 2012, and the dignity of those who now stand tall and defiant in the demand for a living wage.
Families have suffered from the loss of their loved ones and breadwinners. Workers and communities across South Africa have been traumatised by the murderous shootings and mass arrests of mineworkers during that period. Never did we believe that our government would turn their guns on our people in such a brutal and callous fashion.
The message the mineworkers, families and community of Marikana have asked us to convey has been based on numerous meetings over the past weeks.
They want the country and indeed the world to know that they find solace in the fact that their loved ones were not lost in vain. They stood their ground on that fateful day convinced of their right to negotiate for a living wage, inspiring tens of thousands of workers to follow in their footsteps.
Just under a hundred people were injured from the hundreds of rounds of live ammunition so readily dispatched. The shooting was a one-sided affair - a massacre - and it continued for twenty minutes after the first shots were fired. Many lives were lost and many of our comrades are now permanently disabled.
Many questions remain unanswered: Who gave the senseless order? Who sanctioned the murderous tactical plan of ‘disperse and disarm’, to be followed by the use of live ammunition if that failed to achieve its desired objective?
These are just some of the many questions that continue to haunt the survivors of the massacre, the community of Marikana, the mining communities of Rustenburg, together with millions of people across the country.
Despite 10 months of a judicial commission of inquiry we have yet to hear any substantive testimony that provides clear answers. How can there be even a modicum of healing, of reconciliation without a full disclosure of how and why this massacre took place? How can there be any reconciliation without the uncovering of the truth. Yet, up to now, we have not heard from one police officer directly involved in the shooting. We are yet to hear from Lonmin who successfully sought to cast this labour dispute as criminal action.
Those who have the most to lose from this shocking set of events are those among us that seek closure regarding the deaths of their loved ones, 44 people in total. On Friday we mourn all those killed, including the security guards and the police officers. They are also workers; they are also victims of a dastardly plan to quickly put an end to a strike, for no other reason than the capricious drive for the maximisation of profits. They too died for a living wage.
For the 270 survivors that were injured or arrested on the public violence order and murder charges, the stakes remain tremendously high. The State, in a clearly callous manner continues to deny them access to justice and equality before the law in relation to the Farlam commission of inquiry. We fully support the open letter to the government signed by many prominent South Africans that was issued by the Marikana Support Campaign which states:
“..Without legal representation for the injured miners, there can be no level playing field. Should the hearings continue without the participation of the legal teams representing the victims, it would be a travesty of justice...”
In light of the fact that not one policeman has been arrested and charged, this too is the survivors view. Consequently, they are rapidly losing hope in the commission and the government’s ability to ensure that justice prevails. Unfortunately some have not been able to bear the scars left behind by the injustice that surrounds what happened on 16th August and the treatment the victims have received ever since, and have taken their own lives. We will remember these too, lost to us as a consequence of injustice.
The wounds inflicted transcend the physical and continue to fester and breed contempt for the powers that be, this much is very clear to us following our extensive consultation on what shape this day should take. They believe meaningful peace and healing can only be achieved when they see justice beginning to prevail.
In addition they understand the need to build working class unity if they are to achieve their cherished goals of ending their poverty trap and deep inequalities they witness every day. They have stated that following this anniversary, they will accede to the pleas of the church, and other formations that have stood by them to reach out across the divide created by the strike and the shootings to start a series of dialogues.
These sentiments have been further boosted by the exemplary gesture of the President of AMCU, Joseph Mathunjwa, who has in the interests of working class unity, extended an invitation to the president of NUM, to join him on stage to deliver a message to the rally. A message of peace and a message that clearly says: “the killings must stop immediately!” Continued violence only serves those that seek to continue the naked exploitation of our people and country.
While every attempt has been made to make this event fully inclusive, the present context is not helpful in this regard. We call on all people to follow AMCU’s president’s example and reach out for the sake of peace among the working class and in particular, to moderate their language and stop the name calling.
The survivors delegated members of the committee to meet with Lonmin management to convey their demand that Friday be declared as a non-working day. We await their positive response that will assist in illustrating that the company is willing to put people before profit.
Talks will be held today between the SACC and the Chamber of Mines to press home the need for other platinum producers to allow workers the day off on 16 August 2013 so they too can attend the event.
The final programme is still in draft form but will be finalised by Thursday, 15 August 2013. Any formations wishing to deliver speeches or to have messages of support read are hereby given notice of the deadline, that being Wednesday 14 August 17h00.
For those that have lent their support to the survivors over the past year – a big thank you. We sincerely hope you can join us on this important day where we mourn our dead, celebrate our unity and further forge our commitment to support all those fighting for a living wage. We have travelled far but we still have some distance to journey.
We call on our nation to participate in those activities planned throughout the country. We further call on the entire nation to join us in a minute of silence at exactly 16H00: the time the shootings took place a year ago on 16 August 2012.
Issued by the Marikana Massacre Anniversary Organising Committee. 14th August 2103 For more information please speak to: Bishop Jo Seoka 082 893 1378 AMCU president, Joseph Mathunjwa 076 346 6402 Dali Mpofu 083 2601433