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South Africa: Marikana compensation announcement brings justice closer

    December 12, 2016

    President Jacob Zuma’s long-overdue announcement that the government is ready to pay compensation to the victims of the 2012 Marikana tragedy is an important development towards achieving justice for the victims and their families, Amnesty International said today.

    The President also announced that some members of the South African Police Service are facing criminal charges for their role in the killings of 44 people during the wage dispute between Lonmin mine and its striking employees in August 2012.  

    “While the compensation for the loss of life and livelihoods for the tragic events of that fateful week in August 2012 is a welcome step forward, four years was much too long for the survivors and their families to wait,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The government must act swiftly to finalize the payment and ensure effective remedies and justice for the 44 lives lost.”

    The announcement is in line with the recommendations of the Farlam Commission which was set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the killing of 44 people in Marikana between 13 and 16 August 2012.

    President Zuma has also threatened to suspend the mining license of Lonmin Plc if it fails to comply with its Social Labour Plans, as it has promised, to deliver housing for its workforce as it has done in the past.

    “Almost four months ago, Amnesty International revealed that Lonmin broke its own promise to deliver 5,500 houses for its workforce. It’s high time the government held the company to account for failing to uphold its decade-old commitment to its Social Labour Plans.”

    Background

    On 16 August 2012 the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) fatally shot 34 men at Marikana.

    Ten other men died in the days leading up to the killings.

    More than 70 others sustained serious injuries. The men were Lonmin’s employees and had been engaged in strike and protest action over low pay and poor conditions at the mine.

    On 15 August 2016, Amnesty International released a report, Smoke and mirrors: Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana, detailing how approximately 20,000 miners working for Lonmin at Marikana are living in squalor in spite of legally binding commitments made by the company to build more houses. 

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