In Memory of our fallen African brothers in Marikana

Written by Loyiso Mfuku, Mandela Park Backyarder activist,
Khayelitsha, Cape Town
24 August 2012

We hereby send heartfelt condolences to all the bereaved families who recently lost their loved ones through state brutality on Thursday, 18th August 2012, in what has been dubbed “the Marikana Massacre”.

This is written to all those who still feel oppressed by anti-poor laws of this country and to the optimism that still thrives underneath the anti-poor economic establishments of the government. We are all bound by our conscience to identify injustices committed against those who demand their right to a dignified life.

All of us by now, through the atrocity committed by Lonmin, the government and the dominant trade unions, got a comprehensible illustration what happens to those who radically put forward their legitimate grievances. The constitutional obligations of this country protect “the right to life” for all our citizens until proven guilty in the court of law. Thus, the police had no right to “shoot to kill”, no matter what ill conceived justifications they put forth.

This tragic massacre has brought a feeling of sadness to almost all South Africans – except the government itself. The lack of leadership and vision in our country is a cause of extreme concern.

It is one thing for the state president to call for calm in the country and declare a period of mourning. It is another to hear the new police commissioner Riyah Phiyega making arrogant public pronouncements that spit in the faces and graves of the people that we were requested to honour and mourn.

The citizens of this country must put to scrutiny the media coverage on this matter regardless of their said claim of independence. The daily inhumane and violent conditions those workers live under – itself a form of violence – has been cast into the periphery of the media coverage.

Instead the primary focus is on the investors and the country’s reputation internationally. Have we regressed to a level where the lives of our people are juxtaposed with their monetary value?

The government has dismally failed to ask: How did we end up here? What type of the country allows its people to be exploited by wealthy foreigners in this diabolic manner?

If the are hundreds of workers arrested for the suspected killing of two police officers during the strike, why are there no police arrested for mass-murder which is also linked to the same event?

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to anticipate what will transpire in the Zuma-appointed commission of inquiry. We are already too suspicious and doubtful about the outcomes of the inquiry as it already seems to us biased in favour of those who oppress us.

The above questions seek to invoke critical thinking about the characteristics of this country.

We have bared witness to President Zuma in a business press conference reading a speech of sympathy rather than outrage.

This clearly shows what he read on that speech did not come from his heart, but were the words of someone else. He is painted as a sympathetic leader when he does not actually care at all, else resignations would have taken immediate effect. The mere fact he read a speech to console his people is not expected from an African elder, especially, a leader of his caliber given the fact that he was positioned as “a leader of the people”.

The very same President Zuma was heard uttering, “what have our nation become when we see people licking spears like that?”

This was a clear direct attack to the workers of this country. The nation can only speculate about what President Zuma told the Lomnin Mine bosses when he met them instead of meeting with the bereaved workers: “Let us create an investor friendly climate.”

We might be wrong, but given how our leaders have reacted to this matter, it leaves a lot to be desired.

As Mandela Park Backyarders:

  • We condemn state response with high-level contempt.
  • We support the inquiry but it should not be limited internally, SADEC should also appoint an inquiry that will also look deep into this matter.
  • We also call on Lomnin mine bosses to be accountable about the mass slaughter.
  • We also demand the employees to be granted their demand of R12 500 before they return to work.
  • The president should issue a warrant of arrest to all 3000-armed police that murdered the workers.
  • We also welcome the call that national MEC of police Nathi Mthethwa and Commissioner Phiyega should step down.

We also plead with all social movements locally and internationally to pledge solidarity with the Marikana mineworkers.

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