Ten years after her 30-year-old brother was killed when South African police shot and killed miners who were on strike for higher wages, Nolufefe Noki is still far from winning justice. Mgcineni ‘Mambush’ Noki became the face of his 2012 protests at the Marikana platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg and was known as ‘the man with the green blanket’.
Leading the front, he spoke to his thousands of fellow miners with dignified fists and had green blankets wrapped around his shoulders until he was beaten to death. The August 16, 2012 shooting, which killed a total of 34 people and injured 78 more, was the bloodiest police crackdown since the end of apartheid in 1994.
However, Noki’s sister says she is still waiting for an answer as to what happened that day. “We don’t know what happened,” said a 42-year-old man inside his family’s home in Mqanduli, a village in the south of the country. All she knows is that the police arrived to disperse the wildcat protests on the hill, after which “many people were killed.”
Television footage of the day, as police opened fire on protesters and created dust at the foot of the hill, shocked South Africa and the world. The violence evoked memories of apartheid-era police killings. An official inquiry blamed the casualties on police “tactics” and recommended that those responsible be investigated and prosecuted.
But ten years later, the police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigation Service, said the incident was “still under investigation.”
The country’s secretary-general, Fhedzisani Pandelani, said only about half of all claims made for compensation have been paid.
“It’s a shame to sit here and discuss what happened ten years ago,” he said. The memory is still painfully fresh for the survivors and families of the victims, who say her sister was unable to properly say goodbye when the remains were returned 1,000 kilometers away in a tropical country. At Mukanduri, where green hills stretch as far as the eye can see, she said: “I am still in a lot of pain.”
Many of the South African platinum miners come from remote parts of the country like Mqanduli and only return home for the Christmas holidays. Noki is buried in a nearby hill and his grave is now overgrown. But his family is still traumatized and cannot pay their respects at the burial ground.His fellow striker, Muzo Solo Majidiwana, 34, said he was shot nine times during the same police crackdown. but survived.
He secured a raise and now lives in a single room provided by his employer in a town near the hill where the miners were shot.
“The government doesn’t care about us,” Majidivwana said. “It’s been 10 years since he died, and our lives would have been much better. In fact, our lives have been worse.”
Tensions were high in the days before the shooting at the Marikana mine. Strikers were dissatisfied with their representation as two separate unions were vying for center stage and workers who did not strike were harassed. Ten people have already died since the protests began. Aisha Fundi says striking workers killed her husband Hassan, a mine guard. As part of her reparations, her 49-year-old mother of two boys was offered a job in the mines, but that’s not enough, she says. “Me and my children want to see justice,” she said.
She says she doesn’t know who killed her husband.
Also, she has not received any compensation yet. President Cyril Ramaphosa, then a non-executive director of the mine, was spared the killing wrongdoing after calling for a crackdown on strikers. Miners, activists and opposition groups have demanded an apology from Ramaphosa. On May Day this year, he was forced to abandon a rally address and bundled up in an armored police vehicle after miners yelled at him in Rustenburg, a large town near Marikana. Sociology researcher Trevor Ngwane said victims and their relatives lack closure.
“There was no justice,” he said. “The Marikana community is still traumatized.”
Political commentator Onkugopotse JJ Thabane said in a tribute speech this week that the Marikana incident remains an “open grave.”
“Where’s the blame?” he asked.
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/722588/Ten-years-on-South-Africa-awaits-justice-for-slain 10 years later, South Africa awaits justice for miners killed in strike