The ghosts of Marikana still haunt Ramaphosa

Everson Luhanga and Zukile Majova

“The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such … there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation”.

This is an extract from an email from then deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to Albert Jamieson, Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, written a day before the 16 August 2012 shooting.

The mass shooting and killing of 34 mineworkers remains a ghost that continues to threaten Ramaphosa’s political career.

All groups accusing Ramaphosa of being an instigator say he abused the power of his office and placed police bosses under extreme pressure to respond to an already volatile situation.

Days before the incident, 10 people – six mineworkers, two Lonmin security guards and two police officers – were killed as the labour strike took a violent turn.

It was in this context that Ramaphosa agitated for better management of the labour protest.

This week, families of the 34 killed and the 78 who got injured in that shooting when South African police opened fire on the miners, revealed plans to sue Ramaphosa for over R1 billion.

Some say they want justice, others want yet another apology from Ramaphosa while others want him to visit the site of the tragedy and address the community.

Previously Ramaphosa accepted an offer from the late Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to accompany him to the community to apologise for his role in the run up to the shooting.

Ten years on, a faction led by former president Jacob Zuma is using the Marikana mass shooting to discredit Ramaphosa and frustrate his efforts to secure a second term.

The EFF led by Julius Malema is asking what happened to the 6 July 2015 criminal case it opened against Ramaphosa and others.

One of the residents of Marikana who witnessed the incident, Napoleon Webster, said Marikana remains worse than it was before the massacre.

“There is high poverty, unemployment and lack of economic activities continue in the area.

“The little infrastructure in Marikana had deteriorated.

“The families who have lost their members continue to grapple with post-Marikana realities, where they have to fend for themselves for survival,” said Webster.

Residents in the small town of Marikana say the promise of justice is just a mere lip service.

Webster said the government has to date shielded prominent political figures like Ramaphosa, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa, former police commissioner Riah Phiyega and former minister of mineral resources Susan Shabangu.

Image source:PresidencyZA

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