MAC: Mines and Communities

Report on Marikana Massacre is released to heavy criticism

Published by MAC on 2015-06-29
Source: Statements, Guardian, Mail & Guardian

The report of the Marikana Inquiry - the Farlam Commission - has finally been released. You can download the full report here.

The following are a list of articles and statements covering the release of the report.

As Ranjeni Munusamy notes in the Daily Maverick "Injustice and suffering have prevailed after [the] report fails to hold a single person accountable for the deaths of striking miners".

Social justice activist organisation Amandla.Mobi and Gun Free South Africa have expressed "deep disappointment" that the Farlam Commission of
Enquiry’s report into the 2012 Marikana massacre makes no recommendation to prohibit R-5 rifles – the assault weapon which was used by police to
kill 34 miners.

Previous article on MAC: BASF's links to Marikana killings raised at AGM

South African commission finds police to blame in Marikana deaths

Cecilia Jamasmie

25 June 2015

South African President Jacob Zuma said a commission into the deaths at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in August 2012 has concluded the police plan to quell protest was “defective.”

Releasing the findings of the Farlam commission of inquiry into the death of 44 people on national television, Zuma said the operation should not have taken place as it did, according to the report.

Police should have appreciated that the situation was such that "it would have been impossible to disarm and disperse the strikers without significant bloodshed," the document says.

Officers have always claimed self-defence over the shooting of the workers during a protest over wages. They originally said most miners died when they opened fire as the strikers charged against them. But eyewitnesses and journalists have questioned the police’s account ever since.

The commission's 646-page report was handed to the president on March 31 after more than two years of hearings plagued by delays.

Zuma finally made the report public Thursday after facing pressure to release the findings.

In September 2012 the same commission discovered that police falsified and withheld documents related to the tragic event at Lonmin's mine, misleading prosecutors with false accounts of events.

The incident is considered the worst violence outbreak in South Africa since the end of the Apartheid.

Marikana miners’ working conditions need fresh probe

Amogelang Mbatha


29 June 2015

The former general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions said a fresh inquiry into the circumstances of miners in Marikana area, where at least 44 people died in violence in 2012, is needed to prevent a repeat of the killings.

“A new commission must be established to look at living and working conditions of miners to prevent a Marikana massacre from happening again,” Zwelinzima Vavi said during a debate about the findings by a commission investigating the event in Johannesburg on Monday. Vavi, an outspoken critic of the ruling African National Congress’s economic policies and alleged corruption under President Jacob Zuma, was expelled from the labor federation in March for gross misconduct.

Zuma on June 25 released a report that recommended Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s competence to hold office be investigated after 34 miners were gunned down by police near Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum mines on Aug. 16, 2012. The workers had been camping out on a rocky outcrop close to the operations demanding that the company increase their pay to 12,500 rand ($1,020) monthly in a country where about one of every four people is unemployed.

“Until the economic conditions in this country are addressed, there will be another Marikana,” Joseph Mathunjwa, the leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has overtaken the National Union of Mineworkers to become the biggest representative of platinum-industry employees in the country, said at the same event.

Ministers Cleared

At least another 10 people died in violence leading up to the massacre. The report cleared formermining minister Susan Shabangu and ex-police minister Nathi Mthethwa, who continue to serve in Zuma’s cabinet, of any wrongdoing.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a non-executive director of Lonmin at the time of the violence and chairman of Shanduka Group Ltd., which indirectly held a 9 percent stake in two of Lonmin’s South African units, was also cleared.

Lonmin, the ANC, Phiyega and the Chamber of Mines, which represents producers, had been invited to take part in the debate on the Marikana report hosted by Primedia (Pty) Ltd. but didn’t attend.

Vavi had been at loggerheads with the leadership of Cosatu, an ally of the ANC, since it expelled its biggest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, which refused to support the ruling party in elections last year.

Miners’ grievances with the NUM, a Cosatu affiliate that at the time represented most workers at Lonmin, and the deployment of unskilled management in the police were the cause of the tensions that culminated in the massacre in Marikana, Vavi said.

“The unions had been speaking too much politics and too much alliance and less and less about the workers’ wages and working conditions,” Vavi said. “This is a tragedy and this appointing of people without skills goes to the core of corruption in South Africa.”

Release by President Jacob Zuma of the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the events at the Marikana Mine in Rustenburg, Union Buildings, Pretoria

25 June 2015

Fellow South Africans,

On 26 August 2012, I appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana, Rustenburg in the North West province, during 11 to 16 August 2012.

About 44 people lost their lives and many others were injured.

The Commission was chaired by Retired Judge Ian Farlam, assisted by Advocates PD Hemraj SC and BR Tokota SC. I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to them for the professional, efficient and effective manner in which they conducted the Commission.

I also thank the families of all the persons who lost their lives, both those who died before and during 16 August 2012, for their cooperation with the Commission despite being in pain and immense difficulties, because of the tragic loss of their loved ones.

Our hearts also go out to the families of those persons who were killed after 16 August 2012 whose murders fell outside the scope of the inquiry.
We also thank the witnesses, legal teams and injured workers. The participation of all ensured the success of the Commission.

The Commission was tasked with enquiring into and making findings and recommendations concerning the conduct of Lonmin Plc, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and other government departments, as well as individuals and groupings.

The main findings and recommendations can be summarized as follows:



The Commission has found that Lonmin did not use its best endeavours to resolve the disputes that arose between itself and its workers who participated in the unprotected strike on the one hand and between the strikers and those workers who did not participate in the strike.

It also did not respond appropriately to the threat of, and the outbreak of violence.

Lonmin also failed to employ sufficient safeguards and measures to ensure the safety of its employees.

Lonmin also insisted that its employees who were not striking should come to work, despite the fact that it knew that it was not in a position to protect
them from attacks by strikers.

The Commission also criticized Lonmin’s implementation of undertakings with regards to the Social and Labour plans.


The Commission has found that officials of AMCU did not exercise effective control over AMCU members and supporters in ensuring that their conduct was lawful and did not endanger the lives of others.

They sang provocative songs and made inflammatory remarks, which tended to aggravate an already volatile situation.

The Commission also noted that the President of AMCU, Mr Joseph Mathunjwa, did his best before the shootings to persuade the strikers to lay down their arms and leave the koppie.


The National Union of Mineworkers did not exercise its best endeavours to resolve the dispute between itself and the strikers.

The NUM wrongly advised Rock Drill Operators that no negotiations with Lonmin were possible until the end of the 2 year wage agreement.

The union also did not take the initiative to persuade and enable Lonmin to speak to the workers.

The NUM also failed to exercise effective control over its membership in ensuring that their conduct was lawful and did not endanger the lives of others.

It encouraged and assisted non-striking workers to go to the shafts in circumstances where there was a real danger that they would be killed or injured by armed strikers.


Individual strikers and loose groupings of strikers promoted a situation of conflict and confrontation which gave rise, directly or indirectly, to the deaths of Lonmin’s security guards and non-striking workers, and endangered the lives of the non-striking workers who were not injured.


The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons alleged that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa is the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners.

The Commission has found that it cannot be said that Mr Ramaphosa was the cause of the massacre, and the accusations against him are groundless.


The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons alleged that Mr Mthethwa is the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners.

The Commission found that the Executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on 16 August 2012, if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons.


The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons submitted that Minister Shabangu should be prosecuted on charges of corruption and perjury.

No findings were made against Minister Shabangu.


In respect of the tragic incident of 16 August 2012, the Commission found that the Police drew up an operational plan which entailed the encirclement of a relatively small group of strikers, who would be in the koppie early in the morning.

The strategy entailed encircling the strikers with barbed wire, and offering them an exit point through which they would need to move while handing over their weapons.

This phase was only capable of being implemented early in the morning when there was a relatively small number of strikers. Attempts were also made to negotiate with the strikers by the police.

The encirclement plan was replaced by the tactical option which was defective in a number of respects.

The tactical option was implemented at about 15h40 on that day, resulting in the death of strikers in scene 1 and scene 2.

The Commission found that the police operation should not have taken place on 16 August because of the defects in the plan.

The Commission has found that it would have been impossible to disarm and disperse the strikers
without significant bloodshed, on the afternoon of the 16th of August.

The police should have waited until the following day, when the original encirclement plan, which was substantially risk free, could have been implemented.

The Commission also found that the decision that the strikers would be forcibly removed from the koppie by the police on 16 August if they did not voluntarily lay down their arms, was not taken by the tactical commanders on the ground.

The decision was instead taken by Lieutenant-General Mbombo, the North West Police Commissioner, and was endorsed by the SAPS leadership at an extraordinary session of the National Management Forum.

The Commission also found that the operation should have been stopped after the shooting at scene 1 and that there was also a complete lack of command and control at scene 2.

The Commission has also questioned the conduct of the police management during the inquiry.

The Police leadership did not initially disclose to the Commission, the fact that the original plan was not capable of being implemented on the first date and that it had been abandoned.

In addition, police leadership did not inform the Commission that the decision to go ahead with the tactical option, if the strikers did not voluntarily lay down their arms and disperse, was taken at the National Management Forum meeting on 15 August. Instead, they informed the Commission that this decision was taken on the 16th of August, and only after the situation had escalated.

The Commission has also raised serious concern that there was a delay of about an hour in getting medical assistance to the strikers who were injured at scene 1, and asserts that at least one striker might have survived if he had been treated timeously.


The Commission recommends that Lonmin’s failure to comply with the housing obligations under the Social and Labour Plans should be drawn to the attention of the Department of Mineral Resources, which should take steps to enforce the performance of these obligations by Lonmin.

The Commission has recommended that a Panel of Experts be appointed, comprising:
• Senior officers of the Legal Department of the SAPS;
• Senior Officers with extensive experience in Public Order Policing;
• Independent experts in Public Order Policing, both local and international, who have experience in dealing with crowds, armed with sharp weapons and firearms, as presently prevalent in the South African context.

This panel should, amongst others:
• Revise and amend all prescripts relevant to Public Order Policing;
• Investigate the world’s best practices and measures available for use, without resorting to the use of weapons capable of automatic fire, where Public Order Policing methods are inadequate.

In Public Order Policing situations, operational decisions must be made by an officer in overall command, with recent and relevant training, skills and experience in public order policing.

All radio communications should be recorded and the recordings should be preserved.

Plans for Public Order Policing operations should identify the means of communication which SAPS members will use to communicate with one another.

A protocol should be developed and implemented for communication in large operations including alternative mechanisms, where the available radio system is such that it will not provide adequate means of communication.

The SAPS should review the adequacy of the training of the members who use specialized equipment such as water cannons and video equipment.

All SAPS helicopters should be equipped with functional video cameras.

In operations where there is a high likelihood of the use of force, the plan should include the provision of adequate and speedy first aid to those who are injured.

The commission also emphasizes that all police officers should be trained in basic first aid.

There should be a clear protocol which states that SAPS members with first aid training, who are at the scene of an incident where first aid is required, should administer first aid.

Specialist firearm officers should receive additional training in the basic first aid skill needed to deal with gunshot wounds.

The Commission adds that the recommendations by the National Planning Commission, for the demilitarization and professionalizing of the SAPS, should be implemented as a matter of priority.

With regards to accountability, where a police operation and its consequences have been controversial, requiring further investigation, the Minister and the National Commissioner should take care when making public statements or addressing members of the SAPS. They should not say anything which might have the effect of ‘closing the ranks’ or discourage members who are aware of inappropriate actions, from disclosing what they know.

The standing orders should more clearly require a full audit trail and an adequate recording of police operations.

The SAPS and its members should accept that they have a duty of public accountability and truth-telling, because they exercise force on behalf of all South Africans, the Commission states.

The staffing and resourcing of the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID) should be reviewed to ensure that it is able to carry out its functions effectively.


The Commission recommends a full investigation, under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions in North West, with a view to ascertaining criminal liability on the part of all members of the SAPS who were involved in the incidents at scene 1 and 2.

For the purposes of the investigation, a team should be appointed, headed by a Senior State Advocate, together with independent experts in the reconstruction of crime scenes, expert ballistic and forensic pathologists practitioners and Senior Investigators from IPID, and any such further experts as may be necessary.


The Commission also recommends that all the killings and assaults that took place between 11 and 15 August 2012, should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for further investigation and to determine whether there is a basis for prosecution.

The Commission states that the propensity in South Africa presently for the carrying of sharp instruments and firearms and the associated violence even in service delivery protests, requires the strict enforcement of the laws that prohibit such conduct.

It pointed out that the Lonmin workers can be seen very clearly on videos and photographs in possession of dangerous weapons at the public gatherings or in public places.

The Commission has thus called for a further investigation of offences, in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act and the Possession of Dangerous Weapons Act.


The affected Ministers will study the Commission report and advise me on the implementation of the recommendations.

The Commission has also recommended that there must be an inquiry into the fitness to hold office, of the National Police Commissioner as well as the North West Provincial Police Commissioner in terms of Section 9 of the South African

Police Service Act.

I have written to the National Commissioner to inform her of the recommendations pertaining to her.

The Minister of Police will inform the former North West Police Commissioner on matters affecting her.

Further updates on these matters will be provided in due course.

Fellow South Africans,

I have provided highlights of a Report which in full, is more than 600 pages long.

I have ordered that the full report be published in the Government Gazette as well as the Presidency and GCIS websites to enable public access.


The Marikana incident was a horrendous tragedy that has no place in a democracy, where all citizens have a right to protest and where workers have the right to go on strike peacefully and negotiate working conditions with their employers, peacefully.

Breadwinners were taken away from their families in a brutal manner and untold pain and suffering befell the families and relatives.

The entire South African nation was shocked. The world was also shocked as nobody expected this to happen in a free and democratic South Africa.

We should, as a nation learn from this painful episode. We should use it to build a more united, peaceful and cohesive society.

Violence has no place in our democracy that we worked so hard to achieve and build.

I thank you.

Blaming the victim

29 June 2015

The release of the Farlam report and its findings is welcomed with disbelief and confirmation of our suspicions. The commission appointed by the President had to serve the aspirations and wants of the master. To have expected anything other than what is in the report would equal to expect the responsible judge to bite the hand that feeds him. That would be disrespectful of the master – and nobody in his right senses would want to do that if his life is dependent on the master’s feed. Having sat in on most of the hearings from Rustenburg to Centurion, I never expected anything that will favour the victims but would favour the one who calls the tune. So I am not surprised that once again the victim has been the subjected to blame by the powerful in the land. I think this was the reason of giving the Marikana Commission limited powers so that the truth does not come out but remains the reserve of the elitist classes who live on oppressing and exploitation of the working classes.

It does not make sense that the findings put much blame on the striking miners whose human rights were violated by both the corporation and the government. The workers in my knowledge only wanted to have the company discuss with them their grievances that would address their aspirations and restore their dignity. They, like all of us, desired to get out of the shame of mere survival and to live respectfully. The result of course is that they remain disgraced and humiliated. So they died in vain despite their votes that put the ruling party into power.

On the contrary, there is sufficient evidence that Lonmin is guilty of negligence for failing to attend to the rights of their workers – even to listen to their grievances.

In addition, on the one hand there is no doubt that the police collaborated with the government and used live ammunition on the indefensible and peaceful strikers who had assembled on the koppie to engage their employer on their living and working conditions, and on the other hand, there is no evidence that on the day of the massacre, the strikers charged at the police. The decision for the ‘D-day’ had been taken by the police, to ‘kill this thing’ because instruction had been given for a ‘concomitant action’ to be taken. At least this is what I understood from Lieutenant General Mbombo when I visited Marikana few hours before the massacre. Why did they not trust Mathunjwa who had been entrusted with the promise by management that they will talk? And why was I not listened to when I conveyed the striker’s aspirations and needs. I have no doubt that one more day would have produced better results than the massacre.

Two days before the incident, Lonmin had been warned by the Bench Marks Foundation that there was possible eruption of violence in the mines because the workers and the locals were unhappy with the situation in Marikana due to the lack of housing and unhealthy living and dangerous working conditions. And now, even with the release of the Farlam report, the social conditions have not been attended to. So, blaming the worker’s organisations is not justifiable but a travesty of justice and a vindication of state power and influence of capital.

The use of violence in any situation cannot be condoned – it is wrong and unacceptable. But there is need to do some introspection before pointing a finger at others lest one is blamed for wrong judgement. The outcome of the report shows lack of integrity on our leadership which is self-serving. If this was not true there wouldn’t be as many service delivery protests as there are. The report reflects preference towards an uncaring government which uses the working classes for its own end. The recommendation to further investigate is another whitewash and nothing tangible must be expected of it because there is enough evidence right now to prosecute those who contributed to the massacre.

It is a fact that Lonmin contributed to the deaths of its employees by forcing them to return to work knowing that the situation was dangerous and could result in injury, if not death. Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged action that would end the strike in favour of capitalism in order to protect his shares, and the police ordered use of force which killed 34 miners. The Justice cluster must have known that use of lethal force would result in killing people. The president knew that the house was on fire but left for Mozambique instead of intervening in the unprecedented massacre. If these facts are not good enough to make leadership accountable, nothing will.

The president’s failure to apologise means it’s time for him to go and all those who contributed to the massacre. Focusing on Phiyega and Mbombo is not an answer but a cover up for the executive. It is a well-known fact that both are unfit for the office they hold. So, the government owes the workers and their families an unconditional apology and compensation for the loss of their bread winners. The government must, as matter of principle, withdraw the Lonmin’s license for mining. Lonmin have been promising an improvement in the housing conditions of their workers, yet they continue to live in slums.

Both the government and Lonmin must as a matter of restitution build a memorial monument in commemoration of the fallen workers and August 16th declared a public holiday. If these issues are not done, the report will remain salt to the wounds of our people and history is very likely to repeat itself.

The Rt. Dr Jo Seoka,
Bishop Anglican Diocese of Pretoria
And Chairperson Bench Marks Foundation

Demilitarisation welcomed but private security companies need investigation

Media statement by the Bench Marks Foundation -

29 June 2015

Demilitarisation of the police is a welcome recommendation in the long-awaited report released by the Farlam Commission into the events that led to the deaths of 44 people in August 2012 in Marikana in the North West Province of South Africa, says the Bench Marks Foundation.

“We have highlighted the increasing militarisation of the police, especially in mining communities, for a very long time. It is truly unfortunate though that it has taken a horrendous event such as the Marikana massacre to bring this to the fore,” says Executive Director for the Bench Marks Foundation, John Capel.

“It is our hope that investigation will also be made into the private security companies that are hired by mining companies, since much of what happened during August 2012 can be attributed to events that occurred during other strikes in the area throughout the year, where workers were killed by mine security”.

Capel says that the report showed Lonmin’s continuous use of rubber bullets through its security company.

“These rubber bullets were shot at the protestors during the period, often in contradiction to the instructions of the police as not warranting such action.

“The report shows that the violence escalated after Lonmin’s aggressive actions. Prior to this, strikers only bore sticks and shields but after this incident, they armed themselves with sharp objects.

The Bench Marks Foundation, a leading research organisation involved in evaluating the mining industry and in assessing the impact of the Marikana massacre on South African mining, says that it is very disappointed in the limits of the Farlam Commission’s terms of reference.

“This,” says Capel, “has resulted in little investigation into the history of the area and of the period preceding the event which would have given more answers to the true happenings and events that gave rise to the massacre.

“Facts such as the strikers only arming themselves after the violence by Lonmin, seems to not have influenced the outcomes of the Farlam proceedings, yet it shows that Lonmin’s actions escalated the strike into a huge confrontation leading to the events that transpired on 16 August 2012”.

In addition, Capel says that the report shows that for a while there was a hope of settling the strike, but it seems the police, informed by Mr Cyril Ramphosa, who was relying exclusively on what Lonmin was telling him, dealt with this as a criminal issue and not a labour concern.

“Farlam seems to think that he could not have anticipated the police brutality that followed. But after reading the report, we definitely see the link leading to the harsh action and the killing of the 34 workers”.

Capel also points out that far too much blame has been directed at workers and not the real culprits by the Commission, and the suggestions (by President Zuma) that the Lonmin 2012 strike was similar to service delivery boycotts does not do justice.

“Out of 44 people who died during the period under review by the commission, 37 were killed by the police which demonstrates the overwhelming culpability of the police and the state,” says Capel.

“There was no evidence at the time that this was purely an inter-union rivalry dispute. In fact Lonmin’s July 2012 records show that AMCU had miniscule membership at Lonmin and that rock drillers were largely un-unionised.

“And the report acknowledges that the workers didn’t trust NUM who failed to raise their wage concerns and that AMCU had no membership at that time.

“AMCU was in fact called on by Lonmin to diffuse the strike. It is therefore extremely surprising that AMCU has also been blamed for the events”.

“It would be also essential to really know the role of the tri-partite alliance in all of this and how this influenced the outcomes on 16 August 2012”.

Capel says that the Farlam report is clear that the strike was a labour issue. It also says that the use of police to deal with the dispute was unacceptable.

“Lonmin should have been severely censored on this in the Farlam report. It’s unacceptable that they chose not to negotiate; that they chose to hide behind NUM and to use private militarised security instead, and to push for police intervention.

“We cannot forget the role of Bishop Jo Seoka during the strike and the picture that we had of him addressing workers on the koppie and all they wanted was for management to meet with them”.

“Bishop Jo Seoka has stated that there is no doubt in his mind that the police collaborated with the government and used live ammunition on the strikers who were peaceful at that time, who wanted to engage their employer on their living and working conditions,” says Capel.

“Bishop Seoka has also said that there is no evidence that the strikers charged on the police on that day. In fact, he has said that in discussions he had with Lieutenant General Mbombo a few hours before the massacre, he understood that the decision for the ‘D-day’ had been taken by the police to ‘kill this thing’.

“The Bishop understood from Mbombo that instruction had been given for a ‘concomitant action’ to be taken.

“We strongly feel that the Farlam Commission falls short due to its mandate and fails to lay blame where it is needed. We also need to contextualise exactly what happened.

“There is no doubt in our minds that had the strike not been criminalised and Lonmin engaged with its workers properly, and Seoka been listened to, things would have turned out differently.

“This can be seen in the strikes that followed in 2014 which were largely peaceful.

Says Capel: “In order to prevent another Marikana, We believe that a proper contextual analysis needs to be done and justice given to the victims.

“In addition, we share our chairperson, Bishop Jo Seoka’s belief that the only route to justice is for the workers, widows and those injured to seek litigation as a means to justice and that focusing on Phiyega and Mbombo is not an answer or a solution, but a cover up for the executive.

“We also call on the government to apologise formally to the workers and their families and properly compensate them for the loss of their bread winners”.

The Bench Marks Foundation released a report, Policy Gap 6, on the situation in the North West Province in July 2012, days before the Marikana massacre. It later released another report called Policy Gap 7: “Lonmin, Coping with Unsustainability” in October 2013 which looked at the company’s reporting of itself over a period of ten years in its Corporate Social Development Reports.

Bishop Seoka addressed workers during the strike and played a large role in ending the strike.

For more information on the Bench Marks Foundation, and to read their many reports, go to


Bench Marks Foundation is an independent non-governmental organisation mandated by churches to monitor the practices of multi-national corporations to

ensure they respect human rights;
protect the environment;
ensure that profit-making is not done at the expense of other interest groups; and
ensure that those most negatively impacted upon are heard, protected and accommodated within the business plans of the corporations.

The Foundation was launched by the Rt Rev Dr Jo Seoka who chairs the organisation and by member churches of the SACC in 2001.

Bench Marks Foundation Contact:

Mr John Capel,
Executive Director
011 832 1743 or 082 870 8861
Email: jcapel[at]

Mr David van Wyk,
Lead Researcher
082 652 5061
Email: d.vanwyk58[at]

Chantal Meugens
Quo Vadis Communications – media
083 676 2294

Farlam Report raises issues about mining stability as a whole

Media statement by the Bench Marks Foundation -

29 June 2015

The release of the long-awaited Farlam Commission, raises many serious questions relating to the mining industry as a whole, says the Bench Marks Foundation.

It also shows how the Farlam Commission has failed us as a nation by not pronouncing on how Lonmin’s actions escalated the strike by changing the terminology from a labour dispute to a criminal issue and the importance of it using its links to Ramaphosa and NUM structures to break the strike.

John Capel, Executive Director for the Bench Marks Foundation, the leading research organisation involved in evaluating the mining industry and assessing the impact of the Marikana massacre on South African mining, says that what has become obvious whilst reading the report is that Lonmin are complicit through their actions and non-action of the serious human right abuses, and the deaths that occurred during and prior to 16th August 2012.

“We don’t need a superficial report which does not give us real answers and fails to fully do justice to what many consider a crime.

“All Lonmin gets in this report is a slap on the wrist. After reading the report, we certainly feel that the list of blame should start with Lonmin as the most culpable and then include the South African Police and ministers named as second culpable. The previous minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa, should also be held culpable.

“What is also extremely worrying is that the chain of command present in mines during the massacre seems to have been glossed over.

“We note that this is a factor that is common to just about every mining company in our country, whose boards are loaded with former ministers, premiers and directors general, all of which lead to the blurring of lines between the state and the corporate world,” says Capel.

This undermines democracy and oversight.

“We believe this practice of appointing politically connected individuals and politicians to the boards of mining companies is simply a way of seeking favour with government and circumventing legislative and regulatory obligations on the part of corporations."

Capel says the Bench Marks Foundation believes that in order to stop this practice, a review of the Minerals and Petroleum Resource Development Act (MPRDA) is needed. This does not seem to have been part of the Commission’s mandate, but most certainly should have been. The review is now urgent.

Capel notes again that although the Commission found that Lonmin could have done a lot more to resolve the strike and engage the workers, the company has gotten off lightly. It shocking, disturbing and not at all what we expected. Even Lonmin acknowledged this.

Says Capel: “Lonmin chose to use their BEE partner to make a call to the minister of Mineral Resources, and police to criminalise the strike. What is clear from the Farlam report is that this was a labour issue and the use of police to deal with labour disputes is unacceptable and Lonmin should have been censored because of this.

“The report differs to what President Zuma said: both the provincial commission and national commissioner of police seemed to be highly influenced by political considerations. But this was spearheaded by Lonmin.

“The company continually applied pressure on Ramaphosa to impress on the minister that this was not a wage dispute but a criminal act.

“The change in language and attitudes with the minister of mineral resources and others after Ramaphosa’s intervention is evident. We believe this also changed the nature of the outcome of the strike”.

Capel says that the report shows that Lonmin also used rubber bullets during the period, which was often in contradiction to the instructions of the police as not warranting such action.

“It seems the violence escalated after Lonmin’s aggressive actions and after the NUM shooting of two workers. The report shows that Lonmin’s actions escalated the strike into a huge confrontation that led to the events that transpired on August 16th.

“What is clear from the Farlam report is that this was a labour issue albeit with violence overshadowing the real issues. They could have agreed to negotiate as the report suggests. But they did not, and for this Lonmin needs to accept responsibility for the outcome on that fateful day,

“In addition to this, the commission should have called for the Minister of Mining to revoke the company’s licence until they could prove adherence to the social and labour plans and housing needs of their workers.

“Although the report touched on some of the material conditions under which workers live, we feel that there was definitely not enough attention given to this essential area. The squatter-like conditions and the failure of social and labour plans to deliver tangible improvements were the underlying causes for the events that led to the massacre on 16 August 2012.

“These issues needed stronger language and criticism from Farlam!”

Capel says the Bench Marks Foundation had hoped the commission would devote more time and recommendations around these material conditions, as Lonmin not only failed to abide by its many promises but also failed to comply with the requirements of the Mining Charter.

“The company should not be allowed to evade proper material support and monetary compensation for the aggrieved parties,” says Capel.

“We insist that a compensation fund be established by Lonmin to compensate the widows and orphans for 20 years based on lost wages to these families.

“Whilst we welcome the many recommendations and further investigations into the happenings and killings of the 34 workers, and the ten before them, we continue to highlight the lack of action relating to the material conditions and the political collusion.

“All parties cannot be held equally responsible. It is our belief that a proper contextual analysis, at least, be done. This will certainly help towards addressing the situation and preventing a repeat of the events that occurred on 16 August 2012.

“The limited mandate the Farlam Commission had is not surprising. Nor is the lack of real and immediate actions to be taken. As we expected, the truth has remained the reserve of the elitist classes and the working class has come out battered and blamed,” says Capel.

The Bench Marks Foundation released a report, Policy Gap 6, on the situation in the North West Province in July 2012, days before the Marikana massacre. It later released another report called Policy Gap 7: “Lonmin, Coping with Unsustainability” in October 2013 which looked at the company’s reporting of itself over a period of ten years in its Corporate Social Development Reports.

Chairperson of the Bench Marks Foundation, Rt Rev Dr Jo Seoka, addressed workers during the strike and played a large role in ending the strike.

For more information on the Bench Marks Foundation, and to read their many reports, go to


Bench Marks Foundation is an independent non-governmental organisation mandated by churches to monitor the practices of multi-national corporations to

ensure they respect human rights;
protect the environment;
ensure that profit-making is not done at the expense of other interest groups; and
ensure that those most negatively impacted upon are heard, protected and accommodated within the business plans of the corporations.

The Foundation was launched by the Rt Rev Dr Jo Seoka who chairs the organisation and by member churches of the SACC in 2001.

Bench Marks Foundation Contact:

Mr John Capel,
Executive Director
011 832 1743 or 082 870 8861
Email: jcapel[at]

Mr David van Wyk,
Lead Researcher
082 652 5061
Email: d.vanwyk58[at]

'The Marikana massacre is a tale of utter shame for South Africa'

Injustice and suffering have prevailed after report fails to hold a single person accountable for the deaths of 34 striking miners, writes Ranjeni Munusamy

Ranjeni Munusamy for the Daily Maverick (part of the Guardian Africa network)

26 June 2015

The link between South Africa’s deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the bloodied bodies that came to lie on Marikana’s scorched earth during strikes over work conditions in 2012 may seem obvious to an onlooker.

Ramaphosa, a board member of Lonmin platinum mine where thousands were protesting in August 2012 – made phone calls that allegedly escalated the confrontation; sent emails reportedly calling for action to be taken against “these criminals”, whose crime was to seek a wage increase; and held secret meetings to get the government and police to “act in a more pointed way” to quell the unrest.

Thirty-four miners were killed during the strikes – the bloodiest massacre by South African security forces since the end of racial apartheid.

But for Judge Ian Farlam leading the investigation, to tie the massacre to the person holding the second highest post in government, Ramaphosa would have had to be standing behind the police line with a loudspeaker instructing the police to shoot at the striking Lonmin workers himself.

Farlam said in his 646-page report that the commission could not find “even on a prima facie basis that Mr Ramaphosa is guilty of the crimes he is alleged to have committed” despite hearing from lawyers, witnesses and observers how Ramaphosa’s interventions were “infested with a litany of conflicts of interest”.

“The commission is of the view that it cannot be said that Mr Ramaphosa was the ‘cause of the massacre’,” the report states.

For the injured and families of those who died, and those who continue to live in poverty and indignity at Marikana, there was always going to disappointment with the outcome of the commission, because they were looking for accountability at the highest level.

That was never going to happen.

What happened was the opposite. Over a thousand days since the deaths of 34 people not a single person is being held accountable. There is no justice or closure for a single life lost or family destroyed.

The wound stays open. The suffering continues.

Miners on strike march in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg May 14, 2014. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
‘They were killed by a state meant to protect them’

President Jacob Zuma had the Marikana report in his possession for 86 days before it was fully released. On Thursday night, he announced its key findings, without any specific actions on his part – apart from asking the relevant ministers to study the report and advise him on the implementation of the recommendations.

The commission overall found that a multiple failure from all involved resulted in the violence at Marikana, but in language that is extremely cautious. It found that Lonmin did not use its best endeavours to resolve the labour dispute, and did not respond appropriately to the threat and outbreak of violence. But the company that profits from the sweat of poorly paid workers got off fairly lightly.

The commission found that the company’s failure to provide proper housing “created an environment conducive to the creation of tension, labour unrest, disunity among its employees or other harmful conduct”.

In almost three years since the massacre, the workers live and work in the same conditions that contributed to the violent protest in 2012. Lonmin has not acted to correct the situation, and a slap on the wrist from the commission is hardly stimulus to do so now.

Those who went on strike were people who tried to upset that balance so that their lives might be better
Judge Farlam said he did not agree that there was a toxic collusion between the police and the Lonmin mine, a finding that runs contrary to the narrative of the workers and the victims’ families. The commission did not recommend any form of compensation for those injured or dependents of the deceased, saying the terms of reference were not wide enough to cover this issue.

The commission also found that the two unions involved, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) did not do enough to prevent the violence. The report said Amcu members sang provocative songs and made inflammatory remarks, which tended to aggravate an already volatile situation. The NUM, it said, wrongly advised rock drill operators that no negotiations with Lonmin were possible until the end of the two-year wage agreement, and also did not take the initiative to persuade and enable Lonmin to speak to the workers.

After waiting 34 months to hear why their loved ones and colleagues were killed, the people of Marikana have to contend with the fact that there is as yet no justice or accountability for the extreme violence visited on them, and no compensation owed to them.

They live in indignity and die in indignity. Their blood and tears mean nothing to the rich and powerful who benefitted from their toil.

Day after day, they pass the killing fields of Marikana and go deep into its bowels so that the balance between the poor and the rich, the prosperous and the damned is maintained. Those who went on strike were people who tried to upset that balance so that their lives might be better. For that they were shot and killed by a state that is meant to protect them.

Marikana is and always will be a tale of utter shame.

The Savage Truth Behind the Marikana Massacre

Nick Davies

The Mail & Guardian

22 May 2015

Nick Davies uncovers the story of "the man in the green blanket", who died trying to broker peace, and reveals the complicity of the powers that be.

Mambush Noki (green blanket) and Xolani Ndzuzu (centre) speak to the police with the striking Lonmin miners gathered in the background. (Greg Marinovich, The Stand)

On August 16 2012, South African police opened fire on a large crowd of men who had been on strike at a platinum mine at Marikana in North West Province. They shot down 112 of them, killing 34. In any country, this would have been a traumatic moment. For South Africa, it was a special kind of nightmare, because it revived images of massacres by the state in the old apartheid era, with one brutal difference – this time it was predominantly black police officers, with black senior officers working for black politicians, who were doing the shooting.

In response, President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, which sat in public for a total of 293 days, hearing evidence from miners, their bosses and the police, and reviewing video, audio and paper records of the shooting and of the seven-day strike that preceded it.

At the end of March this year, the commission delivered its report to Zuma, who so far has failed to publish its conclusions. Those who may find themselves accused of colluding in the police action include not only senior figures from the ANC but also Lonmin, the British company that owns the Marikana mine.

In the evidence before the Farlam inquiry, one particular miner came to the fore. In videos of marches and meetings during the strike, this was largely because he wore a bright green blanket around his shoulders. Beyond that, it was because, during those seven days of conflict, he came from nowhere as the leader, making passionate speeches through a loud-hailer, negotiating with police and standing in the frontline as the shooting broke out. He died that afternoon, with 14 bullets in his face and neck and legs.

The name of the man in the green blanket was Mgcineni Noki. He was aged 30, and known to his family and friends as Mambush. This is his story. It may also stand as part of the story of what has happened in South Africa since apartheid was voted into the dustbin of history 21 years ago.

Mambush – a rock-drill operator with no official rank – emerged from the mass of black workers as a rebel leader demanding justice, while some of those who once spearheaded the fight against repression acted as a shield protecting privilege, exploitation and extreme violence. It is a story about power changing hands and changing colour but failing, finally, to change the lives of those in whose name that power is held.

Cathedral of commerce

The Lonmin smelter stands like a cathedral of commerce over a bleak landscape, its chimney reaching for heaven, its conveyor belt shuffling a fortune in unrefined platinum. The miners live in its shadow. Their homes are one-roomed shacks. Some of them are built out of breeze blocks; most are patchworks of rusting corrugated iron tacked on to frames of timber torn from local trees. The shacks huddle together in groups of several hundred. There are no roads, only dirt tracks that turn greasy in the rain. A few chickens peck in the mud. Goats stroll by.

As far as the eye can see, pylons march across the landscape like robot soldiers, bringing electricity to the mines, but most of the shacks have no power – though some steal it on cables that sag among the washing lines. The mines have water, too, to wash the ore. But not the shacks: some of the men share a communal tap, many of which have been broken for months; some drink straight from milky streams that run nearby.

In one of the shacks lives Mbulelo Noki, a lean, fit man in blue jeans and a Levi’s shirt, now aged 35. He has a double bed, neatly made; a small table with a plastic cloth; a metal wardrobe with the torn remains of an old ANC sticker on the door. Mbulelo is Mambush’s cousin – their fathers were brothers. Mbulelo and Mambush grew up together in a tiny village called Thwalikhulu, high on the rim of a pale green valley in the Eastern Cape.

The two boys were close. Mambush’s father died before he was born, and so Mbulelo’s father helped the bereaved family to survive. As they reached adolescence, the cousins went together into the hills to build a hut and to go through the rituals and circumcision that marked their graduation to manhood. Later they worked together as rock-drill operators, battering platinum ore out of the earth, 5km below ground.

Mbulelo recalled that Mambush nearly missed the strike. The two of them were there as it was launched, on Thursday August 9 2012, when hundreds of rock-drill operators gathered on the parched grass of the Wonderkop football stadium, near the administrative buildings at the centre of the mine complex.

They had heard that the rock-drill operators at the Impala Platinum mine, in nearby Rustenburg, had emerged from a long and sometimes violent strike with new pay rates, whereas they remained on R4 000 to R5 000 a month, and they were angry. They demanded R12 500 and agreed they would not turn up for work the next day.

On the Friday morning, the two cousins got a message that their uncle – the younger brother to their fathers – had died of tuberculosis at the Impala mine. On the second day of the strike, they set off to retrieve his body, so they missed the first signs of violence.

It happened on the Friday evening. Small groups of strikers had gone to two of the shafts where some men were still working. The strikers toyi-toyied, urging them to join them. Some waved sticks. Lonmin security men asked police who were watching to disperse the strikers. The police reportedly said the strikers were not causing any trouble. Lonmin security then opened fire with rubber bullets, firing more than 40 rounds at the strikers. Two were seriously injured and hospitalised.

Much later, the Lonmin logbook that contained a record of this event was submitted to the Farlam inquiry – with all reference to the shooting deleted. Another copy was later discovered in police archives, containing detailed references to the shooting. A Lonmin manager later admitted making the deletions.

The previous evening, Barnard Mokwena, then Lonmin’s executive vice-president, had written an internal memo, later disclosed to the Farlam inquiry, advising that the company should not tolerate demands that were “outside the collective bargaining structure”. The strikers were rejecting their own union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), accusing it of supporting the bosses. As the union was not involved, the company could choose not to recognise the strike and not to negotiate. Mokwena urged that, instead of talking, the company should sack the strikers and call in the police to deal with them.

By Friday night, Mbulelo and Mambush were back from Impala and arguing about their next move. Mbulelo wanted to leave to arrange their uncle’s funeral; Mambush was determined to join the strike. That night, Mambush called his wife, Veronica, who was living with their two-year-old daughter, Asive, in Carletonville. This was the town where he had first worked as a miner, in 2004.

In 2008, he injured his shoulder in a rock fall and went to the medical station where Veronica was an administrative assistant. They started a relationship that continued even though Mambush soon moved to Marikana, where the pay was better and the rock was harder and safer to mine than in Carletonville.

Veronica had not known Mambush to get involved in a strike before, though she knew that he was angry with the NUM. Sitting on the old plastic chairs under the tree at the back of her house, he had often talked to her and her father, Ephraim, about how the NUM shop stewards were taken out of the mine and given pay rises, cars and cellphones by the company, and how very soon they stopped speaking up for the people who had elected them.

“The NUM is a sellout,” she remembered him saying. She also recalled one time when she was visiting him in Marikana, when he disappeared for an hour to register with a new breakaway union – the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

He had talked often about struggling to get by on R5 000 a month. He was sending most of it back to his family in the Eastern Cape, then paying for rent on his shack and food for himself. Often he would have to borrow to get through to the end of the month, sometimes from friends, sometimes from microlenders who specialise in payday loans at interest rates as high as 50% a month. Veronica had told him not to worry about sending money to her and Asive. She had a brick-built house, and with a college education she was earning enough to get by. “Let’s deal with other issues,” she told him. “I will take care of the baby.”

On the Friday night, he told her the strikers had to hold out. “The money is so little. It’s a must.” Veronica said that there was no way they would get the raise they were demanding, but she was not worried about him. Not just then. Over the following three days, though, the strike tumbled into a vortex of violence.

The koppie

On the morning of Saturday August 11, the strikers gathered in the football stadium and decided to march to the NUM office to protest that union officials had been touring the shacks, urging their members to go to work. Some of the strikers were carrying sticks and chanting aggressively.

The Farlam inquiry later heard that an NUM official gathered 30 union members in their office and gave them long panga knives and at least one gun. As the strikers approached, they heard gunfire and turned and scattered. NUM men pursued them. Some strikers were beaten and cut. Two fell with bullet wounds and were hospitalised. They survived, although at the time the others thought that they were dead.

The strikers abandoned the football stadium as a meeting place, because it was too close to the NUM office, and began to assemble on a koppie that stood on a wide plain of wasteland near one of the settlements. They collected cash and sent for a local sangoma in the hope that he could protect them from violence.

Then others joined the strike – not just the rock-drill operators who had started it, but also other Lonmin workers who were furious when they heard claims that the NUM was colluding with the company and had shot two of their comrades.

One of the new recruits was a friend of Mambush, a short, muscular man named Xolani Nzuza, then 27, who managed a football team in which Mambush played. Xolani had come to Marikana eight years earlier to finish college, aiming to become a social worker, but ran out of money. In 2006, he turned to the mine for income. Like Mambush, he had abandoned the NUM and joined Amcu. He was outraged by what was happening.

As he said later: “The people who should be negotiating for us were shooting at us.” Clever and articulate, Xolani was to become Mambush’s deputy at the head of the strike.

The violence escalated. The following day, Sunday August 12, a group of about 150 strikers marched from their new base on the koppie to the Lonmin office. There were scuffles. A striker threw a rock. A security guard fired a shotgun. The strikers massed forward. Some of the workers were now carrying pangas and used them with deadly force, slashing one guard from armpit to hip and hacking two more to death. One of the bodies was burned beyond recognition. Over the following 24 hours, two miners were killed when they tried to go to work in the hours of darkness.

Looking back at these events, the Farlam inquiry uncovered fault on all sides: the opening violence by Lonmin and the NUM, a complete absence of investigation of that violence by the South African Police Service (SAPS), barbaric behaviour by those strikers who had killed people who defied them, and an apparently callous decision by Lonmin.

As counsel to the Farlam probe put it: “It appears that it was possible for Lonmin to close the mine in order to protect its workers but that for business reasons it elected not to do so.”

Veronica says that Mambush was worried, telling her in phone calls: “This is so messy. This is getting too violent.” She pleaded with him to come and stay with her, but it was at this point that he decided to try to take the lead, to steer the strikers away from violence and back to their real aim, to negotiate a pay rise.

By early the next afternoon, Monday August 13, he was at the head of some 200 strikers who marched from the koppie to picket at one of the mineshafts, where they had heard NUM members were still working. When Lonmin security barred their way and told them no one was working there, Mambush simply turned the march around and headed back towards the koppie, only to be stopped by the police who insisted that they must give up the sticks and pangas they were carrying.

Police video caught Mambush, with Xolani by his side, reasoning with them: “Please open the way for us. That’s the only thing we are asking for. We are not fighting with anyone. We just want to go to the koppie.” Soon, the strikers had agreed that if the police would protect them from attack by NUM members they would surrender their weapons when they reached the safety of the koppie. The senior police officer on the scene appeared willing to accept this until – as the video shows – he took a phone call.

At that moment, the provincial police chief, Lieutenant General Mirriam Zukiswa Mbombo (who this week announced her retirement from the SAPS), was sitting with Lonmin managers, monitoring the strikers on closed-circuit television. Mbombo had joined the police in 1980 and had risen quickly through the ranks after the end of apartheid. She set up a joint operations centre in Lonmin’s office, where, according to evidence at the Farlam inquiry, her officers were working not only with the company but also with NUM officials who were helping them to identify strike leaders.

When his phone call ended, the senior officer was no longer willing to compromise. He would count to 10, he said, by which time the strikers must surrender all their sticks and pangas. The strikers replied by chanting in isiXhosa: “No matter how big you make your balls, you are nothing.” And with that, crouching low to show they planned no attack, Mambush at the fore, they began walking slowly towards the koppie.

Police video shows that all was peaceful for several minutes – until some officers lobbed teargas and stun grenades at the strikers. Nobody has ever established whether they were ordered to do this. The result was disastrous. The miners started to run. Police ran after them. Two officers were surrounded by strikers and cut down and killed. Strikers stole their guns.

In the melee, some of the dead men’s colleagues then turned on their own senior officer, blaming him for the deaths and threatening to kill him. Other officers pursued the fleeing strikers. Several miners were shot. Three died. None of them was carrying a firearm. One was shot through the head from an assault rifle at a distance of more than 70m.

That evening, photographs of the hacked bodies of the two dead officers are said to have been circulated among police officers across the country.

When Mambush and the others straggled back to the koppie, his cousin Mbulelo was there. He heard Mambush speak to the crowd, reporting the deaths. That evening, Mbulelo called Veronica and begged her to come to Marikana. “I tried to talk to him, told him he must come back, but he doesn’t want to listen to me,” he said. “He will listen to you. Please come.”

But Veronica could not come. She was working and had no money to get to Marikana. All she could do was warn Mambush: “If police officers are killed, this is a very, very dangerous situation.”

She says she was thinking he would get arrested and put in jail but that he seemed to have something worse in mind, telling her: “If anything happens to me, take care of everything, take care of my family, because I trust you.”

“Why? Where are you going?”

“If anything happens to me, be strong for my baby.”

Power of life and death

When Nelson Mandela took power in 1994, he was backed by the tripartite alliance of the ANC, trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party. What Mambush and his wife did not know was that his act of rebellion spat in the face of that alliance. Worse, members of the alliance were in contact with two of the most senior police officers in the country, who wielded not only political power but the power of life and death. There was a lot of activity behind the scenes.

On Monday evening – at about the same time as Mambush was talking to his wife – Albert Jamieson, the chief commercial officer of Lonmin, was writing to the minister of mines, Susan Shabangu, urging her to “bring the full might of the state to bear on the situation”. Shabangu had previously been deputy minister of safety and security. Notoriously, in April 2008, she had addressed a meeting of police officers with advice about dealing with offenders: “You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or your community. You must not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility.”

On Tuesday August 14, as hundreds of strikers on the koppie were being given rites to keep them safe by the sangoma’s two sons, Lonmin executives met secretly with the provincial police chief, Mbombo. The meeting was recorded. The transcript shows Lonmin’s Mokwena making the bold declaration that the company’s priority was not negotiating or settling the strike but “getting people arrested”. Even bolder, the transcript shows that Mbombo stepped outside the conventional role of a police chief, encouraging the company to take a hard line.

Central to Mbombo’s thinking was the role of Cyril Ramaphosa – founder of the NUM, one of the founders of Cosatu, a man who had helped to write the new South African Constitution, one of the great heroes of the anti-apartheid movement. Like other ANC leaders, he had also been one of the beneficiaries of black economic empowerment.

By August 2012, through his company, Shanduka, Ramaphosa was reckoned to be worth some $700-million, with shares and directorships in numerous companies –including Lonmin. The former NUM leader’s company now owned 9% of Lonmin’s shares and he sat on its board as a nonexecutive director. National police commissioner Riah Phiyega had given Mbombo a strong hint that she had been coming under pressure from Lonmin representatives.

Mbombo explained to the Lonmin executives that Ramaphosa had been directly involved in expelling Julius Malema from the ANC. Now leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Malema had turned up at the platinum mining strike at Impala a few months earlier, and had taken the credit for making peace. If Malema turned up and did the same at Marikana, she said, it would look as though he was in charge of the mines. The situation, she said, “has a serious political connotation that we need to take into account”.

And there was another alliance player to consider. Mbombo advised the Lonmin executives that they must be careful not to favour Amcu over the NUM. Mbombo was worried, she said, that by settling their strike, the Impala management had looked like allies of Amcu, and that generally trouble was erupting because the mining companies wanted to replace the NUM with the new union.

Mbombo was uncompromising. She would give the strikers a chance to surrender their weapons, she told Lonmin executives, and if that did not work: “Then it is blood.” She went on to qualify that, saying: “I do not want a situation where 20 people are dead. This is not what we are here for.” Lonmin’s Mokwena appeared not to understand this. During the meeting, he discussed the resources that were available to police, adding: “The ones that impress me – the snipers.”

But he and the police chief agreed on the central point. “We need to act such that we kill this thing,” said Mbombo.

“Immediately,” replied Mokwena.

The following day, Wednesday August 15, Ramaphosa was busy. From his position on the board of Lonmin he could have argued for negotiation, or even for a better deal for the workers. Instead – as a chain of emails released to the Farlam inquiry disclosed – he argued for the police to move in. In a message to fellow directors, he wrote: “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.”

Mambush and the 4 000 men who were then on the koppie knew nothing of this. Indeed, they were hopeful. They had formally elected Mambush, Xolani and three others to speak for them. From the safety of an armoured car, officers had agreed to talk, with Mambush standing on their front bumper and leaning towards the windscreen to make sure they understood the one thing they wanted – negotiation.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa came to the koppie with a welcome message: a Lonmin executive had told him that if they would go back to work, the company would address their grievances. This looked like an agreement to negotiate. The strikers, who had not all joined Amcu, said they needed time to think and agreed that Mathunjwa should return to them at 9am the following morning. Mathunjwa told a senior police officer: “I believe that tomorrow will be a day of joy for everyone.”

That evening, in Johannesburg, the police’s national management forum was made aware of the Amcu leader’s initiative and its potential for peace. Yet, as an official minute recorded: “After deliberations, the meeting endorsed the proposal to disarm the protesting masses and further indicated that additional resources must be made available.” Mbombo’s phone records show that immediately after this meeting, she called two Lonmin executives. If police were ending the strike, Lonmin no longer had any reason to negotiate.

At Marikana that Wednesday night, more than 550 police officers gathered. Their leaders ordered 4 000 rounds of live ammunition and requested mortuary vans with berths for 16 bodies.

Dead end

Early on the morning of Thursday August 16, Mathun­jwa met Lonmin executives to sort out details of his plan for the strikers’ return to work. Unaware of the moves behind the scenes, he ran into a dead end: the company now refused to discuss anything. On the koppie, the strikers saw 9am pass with no sign of the Amcu leader.

At 9.30am, Mbombo held a press conference at which she said nothing about Mathunjwa’s plan and declared simply: “We are ending the strike today.” At 10.30am, still waiting for the Amcu leader, Mambush saw police rolling out barbed wire in front of the koppie and angrily called on them to take it away. At noon, Mathunjwa came to the koppie, told the strikers he was getting nowhere and then went back to try again.

Mambush tried to raise morale, talking to the strikers through a megaphone, his left hand beating the air, urging them to stay until Lonmin agreed to negotiate: “We are tired of being captive. We will decide who will remain here – either the police or us. You cannot have two bulls in the same kraal.” At 1.30pm, senior police met to discuss their plan to “disarm and disperse” the strikers. Ten minutes later, the Anglican bishop of Pretoria, Johannes Seoka, unexpectedly came to the koppie. Xolani says they asked him to send food and to urge Lonmin to speak to them. Xolani took his mobile phone number.

In the Lonmin office, Mathunjwa tried to speak to Mbombo and was told she had left the building. He offered Lonmin a compromise deal on the strikers’ wage demand, but representatives of the company declined to meet him.

At 3.30pm the Amcu leader came back to the koppie and spoke to the strikers with passion, at one point dropping to his knees: “Comrades, the life of a black person in Africa is so cheap … They will kill us, they will finish us and then they will replace us and continue to pay wages that cannot change black people’s lives. That would mean we were defeated and that the capitalists will win. But we have another way. We urge you – brothers, sisters, men – I am kneeling down – coming to you as nothing. Let us stop this bloodshed that the NUM allowed this employer to let flow. We do not want bloodshed!”

As he finished, hundreds of striking miners began to walk down from the koppie. Xolani was at the top and had been watching what looked like preparations for war: firearms being handed out, police vans with racks of coiled barbed wire, three helicopters circling. He called Mambush, who was in a small group at the foot of the koppie, on his phone to warn him.

One of those alongside him was Mzoxolo Magidiwana, known as Mzo, a burly locomotive driver aged 24. He knew Mambush from village football games in the Eastern Cape. He said that Mambush decided to lead the strikers away, saying: “Don’t run. We haven’t done anything wrong.”

Mzo stayed close to Mambush as their group set off on the walk to the nearest shack settlement some 400m across the wasteland. Video of the scene shows hundreds of armed police officers moving around them. As the group approached the settlement, a police van raced across in front of them, uncoiling barbed wire, which blocked their path.

Mambush led them to the left around a small animal enclosure, made of bushes and blackthorn trees. But as they reached the far side, with the settlement in front of them, more police vans blocked their path. There was teargas. A water cannon opened fire. And then bullets, from behind and to their left.

Mzo remembered them running to their right through a small gap between the enclosure and the settlement – straight into yet more bullets, this time from in front of them. He felt three bullets pierce his left side – in the buttock, ribs and elbow. He fell, saw others fall, saw Mambush go down, felt a fourth bullet in his right thigh as he squirmed on the ground. He lay still on his back. He said his legs would not move. The firing had stopped. Then two or three police officers were standing over him.

They started asking him about the sangoma whose sons had performed the traditional rituals for the strikers – who he was, where he was – and when he told them that he didn’t know, he says they shot him again in the right side of his ribs. They asked more questions, and then, he says, one of the officers kicked his legs apart and they shot him twice in the groin. Through the dust he could see Mambush, lying face downwards, the green blanket tangled around one shoulder, his mouth slightly open, dust on his tongue.

From the top of the koppie, Xolani had watched the attack begin. At first he was going to follow Mambush. He remembered hearing the shooting, running into a miner called Liau, saying he could not see Mambush any more and that now they must go in the other direction, where there were a few smaller koppies to hide in. But Liau ignored him and ran towards the settlement. He was shot in the chest – one of 17 men who died there. Xolani went in the opposite direction, tearing off his jacket as he went, in case it identified him as a strike leader and a target.

For 15 minutes, there was no firing. Then two groups of officers closed in on one of the two smaller koppies. Several dozen strikers were now hiding among its rocks and bushes. Police opened an explosion of intense fire – 295 bullets, many aimed from the top of the koppie down at the shapes of men huddling below. Seventeen more men died there. Police in one of the helicopters were lobbing stun grenades at fleeing miners.

As Xolani zig-zagged through the chaos, he pulled out his phone and called the number of the bishop of Pretoria. “Father, they are killing us.”

Green blanket

High over a valley in the Eastern Cape in March this year, 20 of Mambush’s family and friends gathered in a rondavel. They had come to talk to me and Jim Nichol, a veteran campaigning lawyer from London, who travelled to Marikana after the shootings and volunteered to represent the families of the 34 dead men. They talked about Mambush’s funeral, there in the village where he grew up, about how many hundreds came down from Johannesburg in coaches, and how they were joined by the local clan chief and by ward councillors. Even the police had tried to send representatives, but the villagers told them they were not welcome.

Mzo was not there – he stayed in hospital for three months. But Mbulelo was, carrying the coffin, as was Xolani, who was still involved in the strike. It held out for five weeks after the killings before Lonmin finally agreed to negotiate and to pay 7% higher wages. Veronica also came, with Asive. Tucked into her bag, she carried a green blanket stained with blood, which she burned as a kind of sacrament.

Nichol told them the latest from the Farlam inquiry, which not only explored the strike and shooting but also uncovered evidence that, when the killing was done, police officers planted weapons on some of the dead bodies and then set about “reverse engineering” a false story to justify their actions. Counsel for the inquiry accused six senior officers of giving false testimony and found that the police had concealed video and minutes that contradicted their story and fabricated other material to try to support it.

Mambush’s family talked about life in the village and about what has changed since 1994. The ragged old rondavels, which housed the junior school nearby, were torn down and replaced with new brick buildings. The government delivered a new tar road to the village, a new bus to take children to the high school (in his day, Mambush had to walk the 5km there and back) and a new health clinic.

And yet, they said, things have not changed so much. They still live in the three rondavels that formed the heart of their village, most of them sleeping on the ground. They still have no electricity. They cook over wood fires and use paraffin lamps for light. They still have no mains water supply and still drink from the same stream as their cattle. For some reason, they said, the new bus stopped running after less than a year. And the health clinic is too far to reach.

Above all, they said, they still have no real income. Since 1994, they had become better off. They have social grants – modest but nonetheless important state funds for pensioners and the sick. And at school there is a feeding scheme – porridge at the beginning of the day and a proper meal at lunchtime. But the reality is that now, as for decades, they still have to rely on menfolk, like Mambush, to migrate north to work beneath the ground and send home enough to keep them alive. Somewhere along the line, the engine of progress has stalled.

Marikana’s Farlam Commission fails to save lives by banning R-5S in crowd control - Issue 733

Social justice activist organisation Amandla.Mobi and Gun Free South Africa are deeply disappointed that the Farlam Commission of Enquiry’s report into the 2012 Marikana massacre makes no recommendation to prohibit R-5 rifles – the assault weapon used by police to kill 34 miners – in Public Order Policing.

26 June 2015

Withdrawing R-5 assault rifle use in crowd control was one of the first recommendations made by international policing expert Mr Cees de Rover when he testified before the Farlam Commission. In March 2013 Mr de Rover urged SAPS’ National Commissioner to withdraw R-5 rifles, which he described as being “guaranteed deadly”, from the Public Order Police and to not permit them to be used in crowd control. Eighteen months later, when the National Commissioner gave evidence on 10 September 2014, she reported that R-5 rifles were still being used in public order operations, and that SAPS was “still considering the matter”.

Eight months after General Phiyega’s testimony, the Farlam Commission’s report recommends yet further consideration. It proposes that a panel of experts comprising senior officers of SAPS‚ and independent experts in public policing be established and tasked with amending orders relating to Public Order Policing, including policing armed crowds, based on the world's best practices and measures available for use.

We submit that given the urgency of the matter, which is demonstrated by the high number of public protests and demonstrations in South Africa, this is simply not good enough; by failing to ban automatic rifles in Public Order Policing, the Farlam Commission has missed an opportunity to learn from the atrocity of Marikana and save future lives.

Experts testifying before the Farlam Commission were unanimous that automatic rifles like the R-5 are unacceptable in crowd control. Mr De Rover testified that military assault weapons have no place in law enforcement, he recommended the immediate withdrawal of R-5 rifles and added that any replacement weapon system should not be capable of “automatic fire mode” because “at every pull of the trigger (you) need to prove the existence of an imminent threat to life or serious injury”.

Several of the SAPS' Tactical Response Team members who fired at Marikana’s scene 1 (which was recorded on camera, unlike scene 2) admitted in their statements that their rifles were on automatic fire. Colonel Classen from the Phokeng Police Station, who also testified before the Farlam Commission, confirmed that in his view this was grossly negligent.

The evidence indicates that R-5 bullets tend to disintegrate when entering the body of a victim. This is what happened at Marikana. As a result it is not possible using ballistic evidence to connect any member who shot at Marikana with any person who died. As such, the Farlam Commission’s recommendation that the National Prosecuting Authority in the province should be responsible for determining criminal liability of all police personnel involved in incident is unlikely to result in prosecution.

The R-5 was introduced into South African policing in the late 1980's, at the height of oppression during Apartheid. That a weapon used to murder, oppress and brutalise under Apartheid is still being used by police officers for crowd control in a democratic South Africa is unacceptable.

Additional Info

Amandla.Mobi and Gun Free South Africa have partnered in a campaign to ban R-5 rifles in Public Order Policing. The campaign was launched on 30 January 2015, as the South African Police Service celebrated its 20th anniversary in Kabokweni, Mpumalanga. The campaign gives ordinary citizens a voice to remind Police Commissioner Phiyega and Police Minister Nhleko of their duty to ensure the safety of all who live in South Africa by banning the use of the R-5 massacre rifle by those tasked with protecting us. is an independent social justice organisation that turns cellphones into a democracy building tool so that no matter where anyone lives, what language they speak, or what issue they care about, they can connect with others to take action against social injustice.

Gun Free South Africa is a national NGO working towards a safer, more secure South Africa, by reducing gun violence.

Issued by Koketso Moeti on behalf of Amandla.Mobi and Gun Free South Africa. For more information or interviews contact:

Koketso Moeti (Amandla.Mobi): 082 583 5869/ koketso[at]

Claire Taylor (Gun Free South Africa): 072 341 3898/ claire[at]

S. Africa campaigners jump all over Marikana killings report

Cecilia Jamasmie

8 July 2015

South Africa campaigners are shocked by the recently divulged official report on the police killing of 34 striking mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in August 2012 and say it is a "gross defamation" of those who died.

According to the Marikana Support Campaign (MSC), the 646-page report "squarely blames strikers for the violence", at the demonstration that ended with police opening fire on the striking workers northwest of Johannesburg.

"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 (the) miners.

"The evidence clearly points to an attack that was pre-planned, and the direct result of pressure from the government."

In September 2012 the Farlam commission of inquiry discovered that police falsified and withheld documents related to the tragic event at Lonmin's mine, misleading prosecutors with false accounts of events.

The incident is considered the worst violence outbreak in South Africa since the end of the Apartheid.

The victims' families and survivors continue to seek compensation from the South African government.

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info