Final submissions at the end of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry – 5-15 November

1The long running Farlam Commission is drawing to an end and the dates for the final evidence have been set. From the 4th to 15th, evidence leaders and others will present their final documents and arguments. The Commission, appointed by President Jacob Zuma, has run since the 23rd of August 2012 has been mandated to investigate “matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana.” To date, the Commission has sat for 293 days where evidence from 56 witnesses has been presented including SAPS, the injured and arrested Lonmin miners, expert witnesses and members from Lonmin, AMCU and NUM. The final report is to be submitted to the President in March 2015.

As the Commission draws to a close we spoke to Rehad Desai who shares his hope for a positive outcome:

“we can expect from the findings and recommendation of The Commission are  the demilitarisation of the police, the need for detailed public order policing policy  and perhaps most importantly, a very clear indictment of what happened immediately after the shootings we saw on our screens. It is  highly conceivable that The Commission find,  given the falsification, deception and concealment of evidence by SAPS, that the police commanders responsible for the 17 killings at scene two, that the policemen in question were most likely involved in unlawful killings.”

Many however expect that there will be some negative outcomes from The Commission. Desai suggests that:

“despite the weight of substantive evidence that points to a premeditated plan to break the strike, which resulted in the use of deadly force on the 16th August, it is expected that The Farlam Commission will  find that there  is no hard evidence to show that the police  had clear intentions to murder strikers. The judgement, much like in the Pretorius case, will be fudged, as there are number of variables at play. Most conspicuously absent  in the findings will be the responsibility of Government Ministers and Lonmin Executives despite substantive evidence that points to collusion at the highest level.  “

For an excellent discussion of the outcomes of The Commission, Greg Nicolson provides a detailed account of what is likely to come from The Commission in his article for the “Daily Maverick “which can be accessed here.  For more updates on the final submission please visit our Facebook page (Miners Shot Down) and website http://www.minersshotdown.co.za.

As a show of solidarity, we invite all interested parties to attend The Commission on the 12 of November, where the injured and arrested miners will be making their final presentations.

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Charges dropped against Marikana Miners

Charges Dropped against Marikana Miners

On the 29th of August 2012, 270 Lonmin Miners were accused of the murder and attempted murder of the 34 miners who were shot and killed by the South African Police Service during the Marikana strike. The charges were constructed according to an apartheid era law, which allows for charges to be drawn up on the basis of a ‘common purpose’ and was used to arrest MK cadres for the crimes of their comrades. Advocate Johan Smit, Director of Public Prosecutions, who was responsible for the decision to charge the miners, was careful to avoid this connection, and chose rather to refer to a separate case where an exchange of gunfire between police and armed robbers resulted in the robbers being changed for the death of an innocent bystander killed by the police. In a press interview (02/09/2012) Smit struggled to explain how the Miners could be compared to armed robbers who were firing on the police. This poor reasoning suggests the charges were not motivated by sound legal principles but perhaps political reasons, a sentiment echoed by the miners and concerned civil society groups.

On the 20th of August 2014, the murder charges against the Lonmin 270 miners were dropped. The charges were withdrawn by Magistrate Esau Bodigelo on the grounds that it would have been impossible for the state to win the case. Dali Mpofu, the lawyer representing the miners expressed his relief that the charges had been withdrawn and hopes that the remaining charges will similarly be thrown out.  The miners still face charges of public violence and the murder of two police officers, two security guards and non- striking mine workers.

With The Farlam Commission of Inquiry drawing to a close, we eagerly anticipate the final findings and hope that all those who are guilty of committing criminal acts at Marikana are brought to justice, without fear or favour.

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Support the Justice for Marikana Campaign

Our struggle for Justice for the Marikana Miners involves not only educating South Africans and people around the world about the tragic events that occurred at Marikana, but also to assist those who have suffered as a result of their loss. As part of this project,” Miners Shot Down” is affiliated with the Justice for Marikana Campaign whose activities have included collecting funds to help support those dependant on the slain miners who have had to struggle with the loss of support after the massacre. To date, The Marikana Support Campaign has dispersed R286,008.47 – food for the striking miners and R126,442 to the Widows Fund.

This money has been used to supplement the loss of income suffered by the miners and their families and has helped to provide basic needs such as food and clothing. There is still a great need for support in the area and with your continued help we can ease the losses and hardships of those still suffering from the tragic actions of the 16th of August 2012. If you would like to help or contribute to the Marikana Support Campaign, please contact Zivia Desai at  zivia@mweb.co.za. Finally we would like to thank all our outreach sponsors and donors: Ford Foundation Just Films, Bertha Britdoc Connect Fund, Action Aid South Africa, Open Society Foundation for South Africa and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

Justice for Marikana Campaign Outreach Sponsers

If you would like to support the Justice for Marikana Campaign please visit our Take Action page and download our flyer here.

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Two years after Marikana – Commemoration Events and Screenings

Saturday, 16th of August  2014 marked two years since the Marikana Massacre. To commemorate the date many events were held across South Africa as well as internationally signifying the continued and growing support for the Marikana Justice Campaign.

Marikana Commemoration - ENCA

Marikana Commemoration – ENCA

The largest event was a commemoration rally held on the 16th at the Marikana Koppie. The rally was attended by over 10 000 people including mine workers, community members, political party representatives, activists, and media. During the course of the day artists performed and a play was put on to commemorate the fallen. Various speakers then addressed the crowds, including representatives of the widows, the injured, and arrested miners . The event was extremely successful and a proved to be a moving testament to all those who fight for justice for the slain Marikana miners that the struggle continues to grow.

Other events included a site inspection of Wonderkop organised by Sikhala Sonke. The Women of Marikana, and widows of the murdered miners spoke to the 200+ attendees. The speakers explained that the quality of life has not improved at all in the settlement. The event showed that 2 years after the massacre nothing had been done to improve living conditions or to make reparations.

In Johannesburg, a picket was organised outside the Johannesburg Central Police Station. Over 100 people attended the picket from various organisations. The picket served as both a commemoration of the 16th and a call to action against police brutality. A smaller picket was held at the Tsakane Police station. A March from the Jabulani Mall to the Jabulani Police Station was held in Soweto. The 150+ attendees handed over a memorandum at the police station. A photograph exhibition, with a book and panel discussion (Justice, Redress and Restitution: Voices of Widows of the Marikana Massacre) was held at the University of Johannesburg with over 80 people in attendance, including students and the UJ deputy vice chancellor.

In Cape Town, the African Arts Institute hosted several activities during the week leading up to the anniversary. These activities included projecting images onto buildings, a performance procession, renaming streets in the Cape Town CBD, street theatre sketches, dressing statues as miners, and banner drops across the city.  On the 16th a Vigil was held at the Rondebosch United Church and Sikhala Sonke organised a morning of solidarity where second hand goods and food were collected for distribution to Marikana workers and families.

The “We are all Marikana” protest took place outside parliament on the 15th of August. The protest started at parliament and then moved to the Cape Town Grand Parade where a mass candlelight vigil was held. The protest was supported by several unions, civil societies and NGO’s. A copy of the film was handed to the police station commander who undertook to show it to his colleagues. On the following day 2000 people participated in a  “We are all Marikana” march in Phillipi. The march ended with a picket outside the Phillipi police station.

Several screenings of MSD were hosted to mark the anniversary of the massacre. Johannesburg screenings included: Germiston Central Police station, Wits University, The Bioscope Independent Cinema, and Constitution Hill. In Cape Town screenings were held at: University of the Western Cape, University of Stellenbosch, Community House in Salt River, The Labia Cinema, and the University of Cape Town. In Durban screenings were held at the International Plaza arcade, and Live the Venue, where a solidarity benefit concert was also held. In Bloemfontein a screening was hosted at the University of the Free State. Internationally screenings were held in Dortmund, London, Moscow, Vienna, and several screenings in the Philippines   The film was also broadcast by a variety of carriers, including: Community TV and Al Jazeera. The free-to-view version of the film gathered over 10,000 views while posted on Youtube.

The number of events, and participants that commemorated the Marikana Massacre show that the movement is growing both locally, but also internationally and that the miners of Marikana will not be forgotten.

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Miners Shot Down at the Tri Continental Film Festival

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The 13th Tri Continental Film Festival is taking place from the 26th September until the 6th of October in Johannesburg  and Cape Town. The TCFF features films and documentaries which touch on social and political issues and has a strong commitment to human rights and democracy through media.

This year’s festival features films from across the globe which look at issues ranging from revolutions in the middle east, the exploitation of natural resources in central Africa, and the growth of fascism in Europe. In addition to these several South African films will be shown at the festival, including Miners Shot Down.

For a full schedule, and more information on the festival you can visit the TCFF website. The Program for the festival is available for download here.

Miners Shot Down will be showing at the following venues:

Saturday 27th September – 20:30
Rosebank Cinema Nouveau

Saturday 4th October – 18:45
V&A Waterfront

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From Lonmin to Bermuda – Lonmin Accused of Profit Shifting

Marikana Commission

Testimony (16 September 2014) presented to the Marikana Commission by Mahomed Seedat, an executive director  of a Lonmin subsidiary, has uncovered a startling structure where massive sales commissions have been paid by Lonmin to Western Metals Sales Limited, a Lonmin owned subsidiary based in Bermuda (a known tax haven). Nearly R200-million a year in sales commissions were paid to the subsidiary from 2008-2012, totaling R1.2-billion, an additional R1.2-billion  was paid in management fees to Lonmin Management Services.

Lonmin allegedly put a stop to this practice in 2007, however records show that the practice was actually stopped in 2012 and only backdated to 2007.  Lonmin’s legal counsel Schalk Burger explained that attempts to stop the payments had been blocked by Lonmin’s black economic empowerment (BEE) partner, Incwala Resources (then controlled by Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Group)

The Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) as well as the EFF has called on SARS to investigate Lonmin for tax evasion. EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi expressed his outrage:

“What this means is that Lonmin, where mineworkers were murdered and where Cyril Ramaphosa is a director, has been claiming that they do not have money to pay workers the R12 500 minimum wage, while they are in reality shifting billions of rands to tax havens,”

In response to the EFF’s statement, a Lonmin spokesperson has denied any wrong-doing calling the allegations “completely false”. Dick Forslund, a senior economist suggests that the payments to Bermuda are only a small part of a larger system which sustained exorbitant executive salaries. The alleged tax avoidance tactics practiced by Lonmin are particularly embarrassing for Cyril Ramaphosa in light of his recent attacks against corporate tax evaders.

Read Dick Forslunds piece on Lonmins Bermuda Tax Haven here. The Alternative Information and Development Center press release can be found here.

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Remember Marikana – 16 August

In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days into the strike, the police used live ammunition to suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring 78. The Marikana Commission of Inquiry has been sitting since October 2012 and is due to conclude on 30 September. The 16th of August 2014 marks 2 years since the massacre took place.

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Many people who have watched Miners Shot Down have asked us “what can we do to help the justice campaign?” One of the most important things we can do is to make the 16th August a ‘special’ day, similar to the 21st of March, the day of the Sharpeville Massacre and June 16th when 76 school students were mowed down in Soweto, to send a loud message that people will not forget what happened on this day two years ago. We want to remind people of the massacre of 34 strikers by the South African police and honoring the dead and wounded. This is enormously important to the families who lost loved ones on the 16th August 2012, and to the Lonmin platinum miners who took part in the strike.

We are encouraging people to take action on and around the 16th August, to show support for the Justice Now for Marikana campaign. Join one of the events to Remember Marikana on 16th August 2014 in South African events or International events.

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