The Farlam Report into the Marikana massacre places the blame on the mineworkers.

Lonmin employees gather on a hill called Wonderkop at Marikana, outside Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa August 15. The miners are calling for the minimum wage to be lifted from its current R4,000 a month to R12,500. The men are mostly Xhosa and Pondo speaking, and the strike was initiated by the drillers. Photograph Greg Marinovich

Lonmin employees, lead by Mgcineni Noki, gather on a hill called Wonderkop at Marikana, outside Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa August 15. The miners are calling for the minimum wage to be lifted from its current R4,000 a month to R12,500. The men are mostly Xhosa and Pondo speaking, and the strike was initiated by the drillers. Photograph Greg Marinovich

 

In August 2012, striking mineworkers at a Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, were gunned down by the police.

The were shot execution style, with clear collusion between mine management, South African politicians and the police. The police had ordered mortuary vans to the site before the killing, clearly showing that the killing was planned.

Dead miners had weapons placed next to them to make them look like aggressors.

The South African government appointed Judge Ian Gordon Farlam to lead a Commission of enquiry into the incident. The Commission released its report (pdf) at the end of June.

The Farlam Report report opens with a finding that squarely blames the strikers for the violence. By placing this upfront, Farlam sets the tone for what is to come:

“…the tragic events that occurred during the period 12 to 16 August 2012 originated from the decision and conduct of the strikers in embarking on an unprotected strike and in enforcing the strike by violence and intimidation, using dangerous weapons for the purpose.”

This statement is offered as a fact that we have to accept. But it is an opinion. There is no evidence to back it up. This finding is a gross defamation of the miners.

Mineworkers' leader Mgcineni Noki, before he was murdered by the police.

Mineworkers’ leader Mgcineni Noki, before he was murdered by the police.

At the same time, despite a run of evidence to the contrary, Judge Farlam and his Commissioners exonerate former trade unionist and Lonmin board member Cyril Ramaphosa and other government ministers. Lonmin is substantially exonerated.

By tarnishing thousands of miners as being responsible for the violent acts of a few, it becomes possible to conclude that the police had reasonable grounds to shoot 17 miners at Scene 1.

During the Commission of Inquiry, senior police officers committed perjury and wholesale fabrication of evidence. While the South African Police Service (SAPS) is rightly castigated, the Commission’s findings are based on the ‘cock up’ theory of mismanagement and poor planning. The Marikana Support Campaign contends that this is insufficient.

The evidence clearly points to an attack that was preplanned, and the direct result of pressure from the government.

In the coming months, the Marikana Support Campaign will be consulting widely on the form of an independent, civil society led, initiative that will seek to analyse the evidence presented before the commission. This will result in a published, authoritative report into the massacre at Marikana.

In the interim, taking the evidence that was presented to the Commission into full account, below are the minimal principal findings that the Farlam Commission should have made.

On 16 August 2012

  1. 17 miners at Scene 1 were murdered by SAPS officers, many using R5 machine gun rifles.
  2. There was no attempt by miners at Scene 1 to attack SAPs officers.
  3. SAPS officers hunted down and killed a further 17 miners at Scene 2. Many were executed whilst surrendering.
  4. 270 miners shot and injured at Scene 1 and 2, were the victims of attempted murder by SAPS officers.
  5. SAPS fabricated evidence at Scene 2 by planting weapons on dead miners.

On 13 August 2012

  1. There was an unprovoked attack on peaceful miners by SAPS causing death and chaos.
  2. SAPS is primarily responsible for the deaths of three miners, two police officers and the shooting and injuring of more than 20 miners and a police officer.
  3. One miner, Mr Sokanyile, was hunted down, targeted and executed by a SAPS officer 800 metres from the original scene.

On 11 August 2012

  1. Unarmed striking miners were attacked by members of the National Union of Mineworkers. Two striking miners were shot in the back with firearms issued by NUM officials.

On Self-defense by strikers

  1. Following the attacks on the miners on 11th and 13th August, the    decision to carry spears and pangas to defend themselves against further attack was justified.

On Attempts to Negotiate

  1. The only party who consistently endeavored to negotiate was the striking miners. On each day, often on several occasions, the miners requested to meet with management, only to be rebuffed.

On Lonmin

  1. The evidence discloses that the primary purpose of the strategy adopted by Lonmin was to ensure that the strike was defeated quickly by SAPS, thus preserving the profitability of Lonmin. To this end Lonmin colluded throughout with SAPS.

On Ramaphosa, Mthethwa, Shabangu, NUM, Lonmin and SAPS

  1. The tragic events that occurred during the period 12 to 16 August 2012 originated from the decisions and conduct of the above parties in refusing to treat the miners as decent human beings and in enforcing such decisions by violence and intimidation, using dangerous weapons in particular the R5 machine gun rifle, capable of discharging 600 rounds per minute.
  2. This report would not be complete without a condemnation in the strongest terms of the violent manner in which the strike was to be broken.

Prosecutions and Suspensions

The Marikana Support Campaign fully endorses the Economic Freedom Fighters’ decision to open criminal cases against Cyril Rampaphosa, Nathi Mthethwa, Susan Shabangu, Riah Phiyega and Lonmin executives. This is in accordance with the damning evidence that exposes the ‘toxic collusion’ that took place to crush the strike that resulted in the killings and injuries.

Finally, the SAPS officers who murdered miners are still walking the streets of South Africa. They should be immediately suspended.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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