Ten years ago one of the worst acts of police brutality since the dawn of democracy took place in Marikana in the North West where on August 16, 34 mineworkers were killed and scores of others were injured.
The hurt and pain left behind for the families of the slain and injured mineworkers has been compounded by the government's apparent dragging of its feet in the payment of settlements reached years ago.
In 2015, the government announced that it was committed to seeking an expedited resolution of legitimate legal claims instituted as a consequence of the Marikana massacre. On Wednesday, the department of justice, through solicitor-general Fhedzisani Pandelani, said that half of the 48 cases have been settled in the class action lawsuit meaning that 24 other claims were yet to be finalised. Pandelani said he expected the remainder to be settled by month end.
This, however, would only serve to add insult to injury for many of the families of the victims who have been waiting for justice and comprehensive reparations for a decade. Though there have been some claims paid to half of those who were injured and suffered malicious prosecution, only R71m was paid last year to the families of the 34 slain mineworkers for just one of their several claims.
According to the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, which represents 36 of the 37 mineworkers who were killed between August 13 and 16 2012, other claims instituted against the state are yet to be finalised. These include claims for emotional shock and psychological damage, loss of parental care for minor children and spousal support for widows.
Furthermore, the lawyer for the injured mineworkers was at pains to point out that despite the government pronouncements there were still many sticking points yet to be agreed in court. Therefore, the timing of the briefing by the government on the reparations on the eve of the commemoration of the Marikana massacre is questionable in the circumstances.
To date there has been no apology tendered to the families either by the perpetrators of the massacre or the government. Instead, since the tragic incident happened, the families of victims of Marikana have been failed and subjected to injustice to no end. We urge the government to honour its promise and promptly finalise this so the families can begin to heal their wounds.