The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, while addressing students at the Pretoria University made some startling remarks regarding the 2012 Marikana killings. He spoke about the police and actions leading up to the death of 34 miners. Zuma said the miners killed people, and the police stopped the killings, a real turnaround of actual events.
Zuma is protecting the police ahead of the release of the report due at the end of this month. The report would probably state facts of police brutality and intentions to shoot to kill. Previous media reports regarding the Marikana disaster and videos reflect the aggressive and spontaneous action of the police who acted merciless shooting miners without consideration of life. The police were not acting in self-defense and gunned down striking workers. Although the miners were armed with pangas, knives, and spears, they were vigilant wanting to make a point of fighting the right to earn a decent wage.
A weeping struggle of miners spurred on by union officials to strike and protest for an increase in wages and public services began protesting. It is the frustration of the African National Congress (ANC) government and unions who moved too slow to deliver wage increase that caused the demonstrations which led to one of the deadliest protests since the end of apartheid.
The public does not trust the South African Police and the shootings at Marikana in 2012 is indicative of the gung-ho attitude pervading the police. The report due to be released might mention that behind the police were troops from a parachute regiment who were armed with machine guns. Top ANC officials including the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who owns the labor brokering company Shanduka through which the mine workers could obtain jobs at the mine are implicated in this fiasco. Allegations that Shanduka withheld miners wages are cited as a cause of disgruntlement and instigation of protests.
At the time of the Marikana disaster, President Zuma condemned the killings and made no reference to the handling of the situation by the police. The failure of government and the absence of action contribute to the contempt of the law. The government, however, did establish a commission to inquire into the causes and circumstances of this event.
It is evident that Zuma defended the actions of the police and is now twisting the truth of the ANC government contribution of senseless deaths. Zuma said the audience should understand that the Marikana people had killed people, and the police were stopping the killings. Vigilant attacks are becoming more violent and deadly throughout South Africa.
The events underscore the fulfillment of economic and social rights enshrined in the South African constitution. The Marikana incident should remain a priority for the government to ensure that all people benefit from the economic growth and address growing social and economic disparities. However, the startling remarks about Marikana killings made by President Jacob Zuma ahead of the anticipated release of the Commission’s report do indicate that the government will once again distort the truth.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Business Insider – South Africa’s Zuma defends police before Marikana massacre report
Photo Courtesy of GovernmentZA Flickr Page – Public Domain License