Socialist Worker

Open letter from South Africa - release the report into the Marikana massacre

This is an edited version of an open letter from activists asking why the results of the inquiry into the massacre have not yet been made public

Issue No. 2452

President Jacob Zuma addresses Lonmin mine workers following the Marikana massacre

President Jacob Zuma addresses Lonmin mine workers following the Marikana massacre (Pic: GovernmentZA)


To His Excellency President Jacob Zuma,

Shortly after the Marikana massacre, when the nation was still reeling from the gunning down of 34 striking platinum miners 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. 

You must, president Jacob Zuma, be painfully aware that the families of those who died, have had to wait patiently for two years and eight months for some kind of explanation. Many attended 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 mining company 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?  

Questions

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. Nobody would expect that the might of the state would be brought down on a group of low paid workers under an African National Congress government. 

In a constitutional democracy it is not a crime to go on strike, or to demand a meeting with one’s 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 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, Noor Nieftagodien, Patrick Bond, Trevor Ngwane, Ronnie Kasrils, Mark Heywood, Zwelinzima Vavi, Peter Alexander, Jacklyn Cock, Thea de Wet, Farid Esack, Leo Zeilig, Fred Hendricks, Dale McKinley, Jane Duncan


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