Bishop Jo Seoka’s statement on the Marikana Report

The Rt. Dr Jo Seoka, Bishop Anglican Diocese of Pretoria and  Chairperson Bench Marks Foundation comments on the Marikana-Report in a statement entitled „Blaming the victim“ as follows:

The release of the Farlam report and its findings is welcomed with disbelief and confirmation of our suspicions.

The commission appointed by the President had to serve the aspirations and wants of the master. To have expected anything other than what is in the report would equal to expect the responsible judge to bite the hand that feeds him. That would be disrespectful of the master – and nobody in his right senses would want to do that if his life is dependent on the master’s feed.

Having sat in on most of the hearings from Rustenburg to Centurion, I never expected anything that will favour the victims but would favour the one who calls the tune.  So I am not surprised that once again the victim has been the subjected to blame by the powerful in the land. I think this was the reason of giving the Marikana Commission limited powers so that the truth does not come out but remains the reserve of the elitist classes who live on oppressing and exploitation of the working classes.

It does not make sense that the findings put much blame on the striking miners whose human rights were violated by both the corporation and the government. The workers in my knowledge only wanted to have the company discuss with them their grievances that would address their aspirations and restore their dignity. They, like all of us, desired to get out of the shame of mere survival and to live respectfully. The result of course is that they remain disgraced and humiliated. So they died in vain despite their votes that put the ruling party into power.

On the contrary, there is sufficient evidence that Lonmin is guilty of negligence for failing to attend to the rights of their workers – even to listen to their grievances.

In addition, on the one hand there is no doubt that the police collaborated with the government and used live ammunition on the indefensible and peaceful strikers who had assembled on the koppie to engage their employer on their living and working conditions, and on the other hand, there is no evidence that on the day of the massacre, the strikers charged at the police.

The decision for the ‘D-day’ had been taken by the police, to ‘kill this thing’ because instruction had been given for a ‘concomitant action’ to be taken. At least this is what I understood from Lieutenant General Mbombo when I visited Marikana few hours before the massacre.  Why did they not trust Mathunjwa who had been entrusted with the promise by management that they will talk? And why was I not listened to when I conveyed the striker’s aspirations and needs. I have no doubt that one more day would have produced better results than the massacre.

Two days before the incident, Lonmin had been warned by the Bench Marks Foundation that there was possible eruption of violence in the mines because the workers and the locals were unhappy with the situation in Marikana due to the lack of housing and unhealthy living and dangerous working conditions. And now, even with the release of the Farlam report, the social conditions have not been attended to. So, blaming the worker’s organisations is not justifiable but a travesty of justice and a vindication of state power and influence of capital.

The use of violence in any situation cannot be condoned – it is wrong and unacceptable. But there is need to do some introspection before pointing a finger at others lest one is blamed for wrong judgement. The outcome of the report shows lack of integrity on our leadership which is self-serving. If this was not true there wouldn’t be as many service delivery protests as there are. The report reflects preference towards an uncaring government which uses the working classes for its own end. The recommendation to further investigate is another whitewash and nothing tangible must be expected of it because there is enough evidence right now to prosecute those who contributed to the massacre.

It is a fact that Lonmin contributed to the deaths of its employees by forcing them to return to work knowing that the situation was dangerous and could result in injury, if not death. Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged action that would end the strike in favour of capitalism in order to protect his shares, and the police ordered use of force which killed 34 miners.  The Justice cluster must have known that use of lethal force would result in killing people. The president knew that the house was on fire but left for Mozambique instead of intervening in the unprecedented massacre. If these facts are not good enough to make leadership accountable, nothing will.

The president’s failure to apologise means it’s time for him to go and all those who contributed to the massacre. Focusing on Phiyega and Mbombo is not an answer but a cover up for the executive. It is a well-known fact that both are unfit for the office they hold. So, the government owes the workers and their families an unconditional apology and compensation for the loss of their bread winners. The government must, as matter of principle, withdraw the Lonmin’s license for mining. Lonmin have been promising an improvement in the housing conditions of their workers, yet they continue to live in slums.

Both the government and Lonmin must as a matter of restitution build a memorial monument in commemoration of the fallen workers and August 16th declared a public holiday. If these issues are not done, the report will remain salt to the wounds of our people and history is very likely to repeat itself.

The Rt. Dr Jo Seoka, Bishop Anglican Diocese of Pretoria and  Chairperson Bench Marks Foundation.

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Press Release: The Marikana Report is Released

Issued by: Marikana Support Campaign
Friday 26 June 2015

The long awaited report of the Farlam Commission has been released. Despite an understanding that lawyers of the families of those slain on 16 August 2012 would be given 48 hours notice to prepare, distressingly this did not happen. This behavior showed no regard for the victims, many of whom attended the commission day after day and have anticipated this day for almost three years.

Following a cursory reading of the report, the ‘executive summary’ read out by President Zuma missed out at least two important recommendations of the report. These are that,

1/ Lonmin be investigated by the NPA for urging workers to break the strike despite violence during the dispute.
2/ NUM be investigated by the NPA for the shooting of strikers on the 12th.

Investigations by the NPA

 The overall tone of the report heavily leans towards a vilification of the strikers. This is followed by a recommendation that scores of miners be investigated.

While we cannot have a quarrel that the hundred plus police who discharged their weapons be investigated, the prospect of this investigation making any headway given the huge scale of this process is highly unlikely.  The issue of individual culpability at scene 1 will be dealt with at the coming press conference.

Recommendations

 After 300 days of the commission sitting, the fact that recommendations have been made for further inquiries to take place into the fitness to hold office of the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega and former Provincial Police Commissioner, General Mbombo, is wasteful and unreasonable. Sufficient evidence was presented before the commission to determine that both these senior police commissioners are bloody-minded, acted in collusion with Lonmin and are incompetent and therefore not fit to hold office.

The exoneration of Cyril Ramaphosa, Nathi Mthwetha, Susan Shabangu and the entire executive is perhaps the most shocking finding of all. In terms of Ramaphosa this is nothing short of a whitewash. Clear evidence was presented at the commission that he colluded with both ministers, and through them, the executive, to break the strike. Not to acknowledge that he, as a Lonmin board member and shareholder, used his seniority in the ANC to motivate for use of deadly force by the state to break a strike that was crippling the mine while breaking the political hegemony of NUM, is the most unforgiving element of the report.

By vilifying the strikers who were simply seeking to enter into a dialogue with their employers, the Marikana Report has inflicted a deep and dangerous wound on our young democracy. Instead of facilitating healing, the report has poured salt on the psychic wounds of the families of the slain miners. It not only fails to acknowledge the shocking act of violence unleashed upon the strikers, it also fails to recommend compensation for those who have been left without a breadwinner.

The Marikana Support Campaign, together with affiliate organisations and supporters inside the trade union movement, will not allow the lives lost in Marikana to be in vain. We owe it them, their families, the injured and arrested and perhaps most importantly to the democracy that so many sacrificed their lives to achieve.

On Monday 29 June, the Marikana Support Campaign will hold a press conference to further interrogate the findings and recommendations contained in the report and elaborate on a number of demands that will be pursued in the coming period.

Monday June 29 – 10am
34 Eloff Street, Johannesburg  CBD
Ground Floor meeting room

For more information contact
Rehad Desai 083 997 9204

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Marikana Massacre Report – What to expect.

The Marikana Massacre report was handed to President Jacob Zuma to review early in April 2015. To date the report has not been released to the public, and the only statements released from the President have been attempts to delay releasing the report further. Since the release of the report one high level police officer, Lt Gen Zukiswa Mbombo has resigned for unknown reasons. There have also been suggestions that the report questions current Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness for office.

While the President continues to ‘process’ the Marikana Massacre report the public is left to speculate as to the reports contents. Martin Legassick has put together a summary of the findings of the Farlam Commission with specific attention paid to any recommendations put forward from the evidence leaders. Legassicks document provides insight into what might be expected from the final report however we cannot be sure which recommendations have been included until the final report is released. It is also important to note that it is very unlikely that the final report will provide recommendations beyond those detailed by Legassick.

Download the full document here: Summary of Evidence leaders presentation to Marikana Commission file:pdf size:167kb

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Open Letter from the Marikana Support Campaign To: His Excellency President Jacob Zuma

Release-the-Report1 May 2015

Shortly after the Marikana massacre, when the nation was still reeling from the gunning down of 34 young men by South African Police, you told us,

“We have to uncover the truth about what happened here. In this regard I’ve decided to institute a commission of inquiry. The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident.”

You also told us that,

“In a very short space of time, we will announce the results.”

It has now been one month since you received the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of those young men. The commission also looked into the injuries of the 78 who survived the attack, and the circumstances under which 10 other men died in the days preceding the 16th.

You must, President Jacob Zuma, be painfully aware that the families of those who died, have had to wait patiently for 2 years and 8 months for some kind of explanation, many attending the commission day in day out, listening to various parties give evidence, hoping that all of this time, money and effort will lead to a just outcome.

But what would a just outcome look like? Firstly it would have to involve the truth, as much of it as possible, however painful. The families deserve to know why their loved ones were gunned down by police using R5 rifles. They deserve to know what discussions were had by Police, by Lonmin, and by your Cabinet in the run up to the massacre. They deserve to know what preparations were made for the 16th, why mortuary vans were ordered on the morning before the attack, and why paramedics were prevented from assisting those injured in the crucial hour after the shooting took place. They deserve to know what is going to happen next. Who is going to be held accountable? These are questions that any relative would deserve to have answered as an outcome of a murder inquiry.

We do not know if the answers to these important questions are to be found in the final report of the Farlam Commission. We know that you set about to establish the commission not just to restore calm at the time, but because you wanted to get to the truth. How else could you justify such a lengthy and expensive process?

But there is something else at stake here. In the aftermath of the massacre there was a collective weeping for our democracy. The massacre reminded us of the horrors of apartheid. So many had suffered and even given up their lives to restore our people to dignity. Nobody would expect that the might of the state would be brought down on a group of low paid workers under an ANC government. In a constitutional democracy it is not a crime to go on strike, or to demand a meeting with ones employer. Some notable people have even said that what happened at Marikana was worse than massacres like Sharpeville, because it was planned.

Whatever one believes, Marikana will live with us as the greatest blight on our democracy to date. After the massacre you told people that,

“Today is not an occasion for blame, finger-pointing or recrimination.”

With the completion of the Farlam Commission Report surely that day has come? We would like therefore to remind you that you promised that the results would be announced in a very short space of time. The immediate release of the unedited report can take us one step closer to the truth, and in so doing honoring the rights and dignity of the people of South Africa. We believe that this will also be an important step in restoring faith in our democracy.

You, President Jacob Zuma, are the only person who can make the decision on when the report is released. We therefore appeal to you to make the unedited Farlam Commission Report immediately available. If you are not able to do this, we request an explanation for why you are not willing to give the public full access to these findings.

Rehad Desai
Documentary filmmaker and Spokesperson of the Marikana Support Campaign

Noor Nieftagodien
Chair of Social History, University of Witwatersrand

Patrick Bond
Director: Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu Natal

Trevor Ngwane
National Secretary of the DLF

Ronnie Kasrils
Former Minister of Intelligence and struggle veteran

Mark Heywood
Director Section27

Zwelinzima Vavi
Former General Secretary COASTU

Professor Peter Alexander
South African Research Chair in Social Change, University of Johannesburg

Jacklyn Cock
Emeritus Professor in Sociology, University of Witwatersrand

Professor Thea de Wet
Director: Centre for Anthropological Research, University of Johannesburg.

Professor Farid Esack
Head of Religion Studies, University of Johannesburg

Leo Zeilig
Associate Professor in Sociology, University of the Western Cape

Fred Hendricks
Professor in Sociology Rhodes University

Dr. Dale McKinley
Independent writer, researcher and lecturer

Jane Duncan
Professor of Journalism, University of Johannesburg

Prof Natasha Erlank
Head of Historical Studies, University of Johannesburg

Prof Karl von Holdt
Director Society Work and Development Institute, University of Witwatersrand

Prof Steven Friedman
Director: Centre for the Study of Democracy, Rhodes University/University of Johannesburg

Prof Devan Pillay
Head: Dept. of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

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Miners Shot Down Wins 2 SAFTA’s

Miners Shot Down has been awarded the South African Film and Television Award for Best Documentary and for best Achievement in Sound.

Best Documentary Feature - Miners Shot Down

Best Documentary Feature – Miners Shot Down

The SAFTA’s are presented by the National Film and Video Foundation, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture. The documentaries nominated for the prestigious awards are described as “reflections of the hard-won achievements and the ongoing social challenges that South Africa remembers on Human Rights Day.” We are very proud to have Miners Shot Down included among the documentaries nominated as tributes to Human Rights Day and we sincerely hope that in winning the award the film will be aired on local broadcast channels.

Finally we would like to thank all those who have helped to make the film such a great success. Without your help and dedication many would never have known the truth about the Marikana Massacre, and with your continued support we hope that all South African with Remember Marikana and that justice will be served.

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Release the Report of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry

At long last the final report of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry is due to be handed over to President Jacob Zuma at the end of March.

Right from the start, the legal NGOs and the Marikana Support Campaign noted concerns over the Terms of Reference set out by the presidency that were designed to deflect blame away from government, and to share the responsibility for the massacre among the unions, the strikers, Lonmin and the police.

Over the 300 days that the commission sat, an array of affected parties were called to the stand, including security guards, the police, NUM, AMCU, the strikers, church leaders, government ministers, Lonmin management, policing experts, forensic pathologists and last but not least, the widows and families of the slain.

We have many outstanding issues with the way the commission was conducted. There is a long list of evidence requested that never appeared, including minutes of Cabinet and ministerial meetings and the uneven allocation of time for cross examination, which minimized the appearance of the perpetrators, while allowing for lengthy interrogation of the strikers, AMCU, and police officers who were not directly involved. Perhaps the most damning fact is that not one policeman of the 50 or so that dispatched their weapons at Scene One where 17 strikers lost their lives, were called to give evidence.

Despite the flawed process, a substantial amount of evidence was presented to the commission and therefore, we are anticipating that the Final Report will have to arrive at some weighty conclusions. If the commission of inquiry was indeed established to investigate and explain the massacre to the people of South Africa, then this is a people’s report. We therefore fully support the call for the full-unedited report to be released immediately to the public and in addition for the report to be released to the families of the slain.

We understand that the commission is resisting such demands and that according to the Terms of Reference they are obligated to hand the report over to President Zuma first for his comments.  We note from previous judicial commissions that the President responds within two weeks of receipt. This schedule would mean Judge Farlam and the commissioners would have two weeks to amend the final report.

Given the momentous impact on our democracy of the massacre we believe this to be an extraordinary case that requires extraordinary measures to restore faith in our democracy. We argue this because coupled with the fact, in the words of the commission, that the police fabricated, concealed evidence and lied to the commission, there is the need for government to show its willingness to ensure effective accountability and transparency.

In this light we demand at the very least that the full unedited report is released by May 1st. Failure to do this on the President’s part will result in the MSC putting its full weight behind a ‘Release the Report’ campaign that will place this demand before the President and Deputy President wherever they publicly appear.

On behalf of the Marikana Support Campaign

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Marikana Support Campaign on the removal of Rhodes statue

Rhodes Must FallStatement on the removal of Rhodes statue from Rehad Desai:

The fight over the removal Rhodes statue carries meaning through to today. Rhodes stood for the untrammelled exploitation of South Africa and the wider continents resources for the interests of the few. He with others established the architecture for a political economy that stretched across Southern Africa. A system designed to keep labour as cheap as possible and ensures that the majority of South/ Southern Africans remained trapped in poverty. The racial form of capitalism that he was key to entrenching still remains with us today, economic inequality along racial lines is not narrowing but widening despite the end of apartheid. The demand for equality is was led to the Marikana Massacre, we must always remember what length our leaders will stoop to to protect the system that benefits a tiny minority.

His statue must be removed entirely from the campus, it is symbol of oppression and exploitation and the enduring inequality that lives on in South Africa, and UCT cannot with any integrity argue that somehow that they university is somehow exempt from this general societal pattern.

Rehad Desai on behalf of the Marikana Support Campaign.

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