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