It has been more than a decade after the Marikana massacre claimed the lives of miners in the North West mining town, and yet a culture of impunity has been allowed to continue, with no one being held accountable for the loss of life, Amnesty International South Africa said on the 11th anniversary of the shooting.
“The lack of accountability for victims and their families is a recurring theme in South Africa. We need to demand answers as to why it is taking 11 years in the case of the Marikana massacre for there to be any prosecutions, and ultimately accountability for the brutal loss of life,” Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said.
The lack of accountability for victims and their families is a recurring theme in South Africa. We need to demand answers as to why it is taking 11 years in the case of the Marikana massacre for there to be any prosecutions, and ultimately accountability for the brutal loss of lifeAmnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed
On 16 August 2012, 34 miners were killed and more than 70 wounded near the mine in Marikana, when police used live ammunition to disperse a group of striking protesters.
As such these actions were unlawful under South African domestic law obliging police officers to act within a framework of minimum force, and under international law and standards, in particular the obligation to respect and protect life. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms allows for the use of firearms only in defence against imminent threat of death or serious injury and only when less extreme methods are insufficient.
While some officers are facing charges for the events that took place before 16 August 2012, no police officer has been charged for the killing of 34 mine workers on that fateful day.
Amnesty International South Africa wrote to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the North West asking for answers as to why there have been no prosecutions, 11 years after the massacre.
The IPID, told Amnesty International South Africa that in relation to the shooting on 16 August at what is known as Scene 1 and 2, the role of every single member of the police that was deployed in Marikana on the date in question was being investigated. IPID said these were more or less 600 police officers. It said the cases had now been transferred to the North West Director of Public Prosecutions for further handling.
The NPA has not responded to Amnesty International South Africa’s questions as to why no one had been prosecuted to date.
The IPID tried to justify the delay in justice, by saying that the Farlam commission of inquiry into the shooting, started in 2012, and that all Marikana investigations were ordered to stop, and only resumed in 2016 when IPID investigators met with a team of experienced advocates appointed by the National Director of Public Prosecutions to lead the investigations.
“We made it clear to IPID and the NPA that waiting 11 years for accountability was unacceptable. The excuse that investigations were stopped until 2016, is also not a good enough excuse, it still means that there have been seven years with no prosecutions and no accountability,” Shenilla Mohamed said.
We made it clear to IPID and the NPA that waiting 11 years for accountability was unacceptable. The excuse that investigations were stopped until 2016, is also not a good enough excuse, it still means that there have been seven years with no prosecutions and no accountabilityShenilla Mohamed
“The victims and their families cannot be made to wait another year, nevermind another 11 years for justice. This will just result in the continued lack of accountability for the unlawful killings by police.”
On 16 August 2012, the South African Police Service fatally shot 34 men at Marikana in South Africa’s North West province. The men were employees of the mining company, Lonmin, and had been engaged in a strike and protest action over pay and conditions at the mine. The scale and visibility of the killings, as well as the growing unrest across the mining sector, sparked a national crisis.
Since 2012 Amnesty International has commented and campaigned on the serious policing failures that led to the deaths at Marikana, calling for full accountability and reparations for the victims and their families.
In 2016 Amnesty International released a report titled Smoke and mirrors: Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana.
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Genevieve Quintal, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0) 64 890 9224; [email protected]