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S.Africans rally to mark Marikana massacre 10th anniversary

Thousands gathered at the hillside where the massacre unfolded 10 years ago
Thousands gathered at the hillside where the massacre unfolded 10 years ago - Copyright AFP Arun SANKAR
Thousands gathered at the hillside where the massacre unfolded 10 years ago - Copyright AFP Arun SANKAR

Thousands of people gathered in the South African town of Marikana on Tuesday to mark a decade since dozens of striking workers were killed in the worst act of police violence since the end of apartheid.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people were killed and 78 injured when police opened fire on platinum mine workers who had gathered on a hill near the mine to press demands for better wages and housing.

Ten years later, survivors and relatives of victims are still demanding justice. 

On Tuesday, some danced and sang songs while brandishing sticks on the same rocky hill that played as backdrop to the massacre, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, according to AFP reporters at the scene.  

Many miners wearing mining union T-shirts were in attendance, along with opposition officials.

“We are still waiting to know the person who sent the police to kill our husbands,” a representative for the widows of those killed who did not give her name told the crowd from a stage, the words “No justice, no arrest” appearing on a banner behind her.

An official inquiry placed much of the blame for the deaths on police tactics, finding that an operation to remove the miners should not have gone ahead.

It cleared senior government officials of any culpability. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who at the time was non-executive director at Lonmin, which operated the mine, was also exonerated. 

No one has been charged over the massacre.

“We want justice. Now, not tomorrow,” Joseph Mathunjwa, the leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) told the rally. 

-‘A turning point’ –

Some people used the day as a family outing. A father stood at the back of his cars, trunk open, sipping a lager from a glass while his daughter drank juice as her mother sat on a camping chair.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, a police watchdog, said the incident is still under investigation.

“They must apologise,” said Dali Mpofu, a lawyer representing the victims, calling for the creation of a memorial to those who lost their lives. 

Authorities have said they are still finalising dozens of compensation claims, having already paid almost 76 million rand ($4.6 million) to the victims’ families. 

“We need to be strong men, in the end the truth will come out, even when we are no longer there, as to who was responsible for the spilling of blood in Marikana,” said Mzoxolo Magidiwana, a survivor of the massacre who escaped with nine gunshot wounds. 

No government representatives attended the event.

In a statement Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, said, “the Marikana tragedy was a turning point in the history of democratic South Africa and one that must never be repeated”.

Wages in the mining sector have increased by 86.5 percent since 2012, the Minerals Council South Africa, an industry group, said in a statement.

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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