Media statement by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Marikana tragedy at the briefing of the Foreign Correspondence Association
3 Sep 2012
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Press.
Government is saddened by the tragic incidents that unfolded at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana in the North West which has claimed the lives of 44 people.
Upon learning about the Marikana tragedy, President Jacob Zuma cut short his Southern African Development Community (SADC) engagement to be with the people of South Africa. The President immediately visited Marikana to pledge his support and sympathy with the victims of the tragedy. President Zuma immediately announced the intention to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate this matter. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry was subsequently appointed.
Having assessed the impact this tragedy has had on the people of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma declared a period of national mourning from Monday 20 to Sunday 26 August 2012, to commemorate the lives of all South Africans who have died violently, especially the 44 who were killed in incidents in Marikana. This period of national mourning was observed across South Africa and in all our foreign missions abroad.
He also established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to provide assistance and support to the families of the deceased and try find solutions to the instability. The IMC continues to execute its mandate in this regard.
The presence of the IMC during this period demonstrates government's empathy and commitment to assist the bereaved families. Government has made and continues to make specific contributions towards funeral arrangements and other needs the bereaved families require; this is over and above contributions by other stakeholders. Ministers and other leaders of government have visited the bereaved families in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. They have also taken the time to pay their respects to the bereaved families, in person, in various localities across the country.
Government took a decision to support all families of the 44 deceased without discrimination, as you may know that some of the deceased were not employees of Lonmin. Government will further ensure that those families who qualify for any benefits from government receive them as soon as possible, this to ensure that those households who lost their breadwinners receive care from government.
Government has been hard at work to ensure that all the bereaved families and the injured receive support during this process:
- The IMC assisted families to identify their loved ones at the Mortuary
- All 44 post-mortems were conducted by state pathologists and verified by independent private pathologists.
- 43 death certificates have been issued to families
- 38 people have been laid to rest, the remaining 6 are expected to be laid to rest during the weekend of the 8th of September 2012
- More than 50 social workers continues to provide psychological support to all bereaved families and those hospitalised
- The hospitalised are still receiving medical attention and government wish them a speedy recovery.
The tragic incident at Marikana is not a reflection of the business environment in South Africa. We would like to reassure all stakeholders and the international community that mining operations continue unhindered in other parts of the North West province and throughout the country. Government remains in control of the situation and law and order continues to prevail. The country continues to fully support direct investment and appropriate incentives and the legislative framework is in place to give confidence and predictability to investment decisions and security of tenure.
The events of the past weeks have not yet impacted on our ability to attract investors to our country. We have also not had any concerns raised through our foreign offices abroad about the damage done to investor sentiments. Government through the dti, has facilitated several investments in the past weeks in Mining, Manufacturing, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). These investments should be seen against the back drop of South Africa’s improved rating on the World Competitiveness report where we improved our standing from 54th to 50th place as well as our ratings on the Ease of Doing Business index where South Africa was ranked 35th globally.
As government we are doing all in our power to make sure what happened does not happen again. However, the mining industry and the labour movement will also have to come to the table and all must contribute to the well-being of workers. We would like to emphasise the inextricability of stability of investment and the seamless implementation of the Mining Charter with particular regard to social and labour programmes. More work needs to be done in the area of social investment in mining communities and in the improvement of living conditions of mineworkers to mitigate against the unfavourable material conditions that give rise to tragedies such as Marikana.
The President has instituted a Commission of Inquiry headed by Judge Ian Farlam, with broad terms of reference in order to establish the facts and make recommendations. The Commission will look into the role played by all concerned parties which led to violent situation resulting in the loss of 44 lives. The Commission has been given a period of four months to complete its work.
Government has noted media reports speculating about what might have taken place on 16 August; however government wish to call upon all who have any evidence that may assist the commission in its work should submit it to the commission.
In deference to our constitutional democracy, President Zuma will not interfere in the work of the Marikana Commission or any other processes, including the prosecution of persons associated with the tragedy. The President is required to uphold the Constitution at all times and he respects the independence of all institutions created to ensure the smooth functioning of our Constitutional democracy, including those in the legal sphere, which need to execute their responsibilities without fear, favour or interference.
Government is concerned about allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees arrested in connection with the Marikana incident. The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa has received a preliminary report from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
The investigation is on-going and the Minister will receive a final report with recommendations as soon as it is finalised. The Minister has accordingly assured the public that should the investigation point out to any violation of the detainees by any police officer; the full might of the law will take its course.
To this end, the Minister reiterated that any detainee is entitled to fair and humane treatment while under police custody and that police officers who do not uphold the law, abusing their power and assaulting detainees do not have a place within the South African Police Service. As Government we remain confident that the IPID will objectively investigate these allegations. We further urge all in society to respect the criminal justice system of the land to unfold, without any due interference.
Government remains committed to ensure the welfare and conditions of service for workers. South Africa is a progressive constitutional democratic state that has established laws governing labour relations. Our Constitution recognises and protects workers’ rights to organise themselves and to engage in peaceful protest.
The Minister of Labour, Mrs Mildred Olifant was tasked to deal with the labour dispute. The Minister met different unions starting with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union on 22 August 2012 in Rustenburg. This meeting was followed by a bigger meeting attended by Lonmin Management, NUM, COSATU, AMCU, NACTU, Solidarity, UASA and FEDUSA. It was resolved at this meeting that creating a peaceful climate was the first step to resolving the Marikana situation.
A follow up meeting was set for 29 August 2012 to continue trying to resolve these issues. But before then, another group of workers who do not belong to any of the unions sought audience with the Minister because they felt the process was excluding them. The Minister met them in Marikana on the 28 August 2012, and assured them that they can come to the bigger meeting to present their grievances in a bigger audience. This process is currently underway and we are confident that the underlying labour issue will be resolved.
South Africa is a constitutional democracy with appropriate labour relations laws and long-established negotiating forums in which business, organised labour government resolved labour issues. We remain confident that the labour dispute at the Lonmin Mine will be amicably resolved. Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, along with the South African Council of Churches, has been in regular meetings with all concerned parties in an effort to resolve the dispute.
Minister of Minerals Susan Shabangu met with the platinum producers, gold producers, National Union of Mineworkers and the Chamber of Mines in an effort to find solutions to the instability.
Government reiterates the call on all involved not to abuse the plight of those who lost their loved ones. This is not the time for irresponsible provocative statements and grandstanding; we all have to act with responsibility. This is a trying time for the bereaved families and our country. We, therefore, urge all parties to play a constructive role and support the families and the nation at large in the process of healing.
The continued prevailing stability is an effort of all key stakeholders including government, religious leaders, traditional leaders and unions, once again a demonstration that when we work together we can achieve more. Government wish to thank all involved who continue to work tirelessly to ensure that an amicable solution is found to the dispute and that peace prevails in our country.
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Issued by: The Presidency
3 Sep 2012
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