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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March 21st was declared a day of commemoration to foster a culture of human rights enshrined in our constitution. These very rights are now under threat, as deaths that can be attributed to the police have increased exponentially over the past few years. The brazen killing of striking miners demanding the right to negotiate wages and the failure to prosecute one single office has allowed the police to continue to act in a brutal. The Marikana Support Campaign has joined hands with the United Front, the Right To Know Campaign and many others to transform March 21 into a day of action.

This marks the beginning of a new phase for the support campaign where we join hands with the widest array of forces possible to demand accountability and ultimately justice. Following our  belief that justice delayed is justice denied we will use March 21 to demand the report that is to be handed over to President Zuma at the end of this month be published no later than the end of April.  During April we will outline what findings the final report of the commission will need to assert if Justice is to be done.

We urge all those who understand that the real culprits of the massacre are those police that ordered the shooting and those that fired upon the miners, the politicans who sanctioned the the use of live ammunition, and last but not least  senior Lonmin management to get into campaign mode and support our call to protest on the day. What you decide to do is in your hands, but please do something.

Activity can take many forms. It may simply mean organising a screening of Miners Shot Down. It could be holding a meeting where we invite one or two persons to address the meeting about the role of the police over the past years. Please see the submission to the Farlam commission attached.  It could be that you organise a vigil or picket of the police station.

Please see the list of activity, whatever you are doing please inform us so we can do our bit to bring attention to it and put you in touch with people who maybe able to assist.   At present we have 25 actions that we know are taking place. We hoping that this can double to 50 over the next days. We plan to send out a comprehensive list of activities  by this coming Thursday.

The campaign kicks-off with a picket outside the US consulate in Sandton on Wednesday 18 March to highlight police brutality against Afro-American communities will move through the country; touching major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The action will also take place in small towns such as Thabong in Welkom; Whittlesea and Peddie in the Eastern Cape. The actions will focus on how ordinary people can reclaim their rights; the issue of police brutality; a demand for justice for Marikana miners; xenophobia as a form of abuse; the rendering of crime and justice institutions such as the Hawks, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) dysfunctional; and the growing undermining of the right to privacy and freedom association by intelligence operatives.

The form of action for the week will be varied; ranging from night vigils, human chains around targeted police stations and setting of tombstones for 44 people who have been killed by the police during protests since 2004.

Download the Schedule of events here.

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Miners Shot Down wins Jury’s first prize at FESPACO 2015

FESPACO 2105 WinnerSouth African filmmaker Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down scooped the Jury’s first prize at FESPACO, Africa’s premier Film and TV festival. This is the first win for a South African documentary at this biannual event that has been running now for over 45 years, the documentary competition included film from 19 countries.

The film takes a forensic real time at the Marikana massacre of 2012 where 34 miners were killed and over 100 injured. Its been described as ‘devastating cinema’ and a heart wrenching film that resonates far beyond its borders with a story that interrogates the power and ruthlessness of capitalist exploitation in an age of increasing economic inequality.

The film won the Cinema for Peace Justice Award in February this year which is designed to single out the most valuable film in the fight for social and legal justice produced in the world during 2014.  In addition it won the Audience Prize in January 2015 at the prestigious Black Movie Film Festival in Switzerland where it competed with 60 other documentary and fiction films from around the world.

The FESPACO award now provides a total of 11 festival prizes making this film one of South Africa’s most acclaimed film for many years. The film has been nominated for numerous South African Film and Television Awards scheduled to be announced later this month.

Rehad Desai stated ‘the win at FESPACO means so much to both me and the team behind this film, being affirmed by our fellow African filmmakers and the huge audiences in Burkina Faso provides us with the encouragement we need to continue to take this film out to the widest possible numbers at home and abroad to ensure that justice and truth wins the day.’

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We are all Marikana – Widows respond to the end of the Farlam Commission

This emotional clips looks at the last days of the Farlam Commission It lets the grieving widows explain how they felt about the process and asks important questions about what we can expect. – We are all Marikana.

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Miners Shot Down has won the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice

“To be presented an award by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is very affirming. We have a just cause and one day those behind the Marikana massacre will face trial and therefore the consequences.” (Rehad Desai, Director)

South African documentary film, Miners Shot Down, has won the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice, 2015.  The Cinema for Peace Award for Justice was initiated in 2009, together with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The announcement was made in Berlin at the Awards Gala on February 9th, 2015.

This year’s Cinema for Peace Award for Justice was deliberated on by a group of very powerful figures, including the chief prosecutor of the ICC. This means that people will be looking very closely at the evidence of political collusion that is highlighted by the film. For example, the role of Cyril Ramaphosa, the current Deputy President of South Africa, who at the time of the massacre was a shareholder and a non-executive board member of Lonmin, as well as a senior member of the ANC.

Cyril Ramaphosa is a known skilled negotiator. The strikers’ key demand was to negotiate with Lonmin management. Ramaphosa chose not to procure peaceful dialogue in August 2012. Instead he communicated with cabinet ministers on the need to escalate the use of force to end the strike.

Cinema for Peace has supported a number of important causes with the help of artists such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and personalities such as the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali, Bill and Hillary Clinton, president Mikhail Gorbachev and our former Honorary Patron Nelson Mandela.

Several winning films have been screened at special occasions and campaigns, including at the UN General Assembly and in a campaign to save Sakineh Ashtiani from death by stoning. The Cinema for Peace Justice Award for Miners Shot Down bolsters the case for all those responsible for the massacre to get their day in court.

“Endorsement by icons like Nelson Mandela and George Clooney will help to propel the film and its campaign for justice to greater heights. We won’t rest until the victims of the massacre get justice.” Rehad Desai, Director.

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Press Release for Lonmin AGM – 29th January 2015

This following press release has been prepared by the Marikana Support Campaign for the Lonmin AGM scheduled for tomorrow (29th January 2015).

Lonmin: Take Responsibility for the Marikana Massacre

South African police shot dead 34 miners at Marikana on 16th August 2012, and injured more than 80. The miners worked for UK-based Lonmin and were on strike for a living wage.

This week in central London, on Thursday 29 January, a group of women will lobby Lonmin’s shareholders and demand that the corporation takes responsibility for its role in the massacre.

The women will stand outside Lonmin’s shareholders’ meeting holding up pictures of relatives who were left bereaved and destitute by the massacre and have since been campaigning for justice. Continue reading

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Can the Farlam Commission Deliver Justice for the Slain Miners?

James Nichol is a criminal lawyer based in London who specialises in cases involving the miscarriage of justice; these have included the ‘Bridgewater Four’ case, the UK miners’ strike of 1984-85, and the ‘Bloody Sunday’ inquiry. During the Farlam Commission, he has represented families of many of the miners killed in the Marikana massacre. This interview was conducted by Amandla! on 30 November 2014.

Amandla! (A!): There is often an impression that commissions of inquiry are used to contain political damage rather than for any real pursuit of justice. Is there reason to believe the Farlam Commission will defy this impression?

Jim Nichol: Part of the reason for having the commission was to avoid having to prosecute the police. When you see those images on television, it’s obvious there must be a murder investigation; people must be held to account. By setting up a commission, Zuma avoided that. Two years and three months, later no police officer has been held to account.

Continue reading

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