News / Africa

Lack of Funds Slows South Africa Mine Shooting Investigation

People sitting outside their shacks in the Nkaneng shantytown next to the platinum mine, run by British company Lonmin, in Marikana. South Africa, July 9, 2913.
People sitting outside their shacks in the Nkaneng shantytown next to the platinum mine, run by British company Lonmin, in Marikana. South Africa, July 9, 2913.
It has been one year since 34 striking miners were gunned down by police in Marikana, a northern South African mining town.  In the meantime, funding for the miners' legal team has run out, putting the investigation into the shooting on hold.

One year ago, police opened fire on striking miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  Thirty-four people were killed, and 10 others had been killed in the days leading up to the massacre.

In the wake of the shootings, which also resulted in more than 70 injuries, a commission was set up to investigate, with recommendations to be made to President Jacob Zuma.  The commission had been moving forward, but the donated funding for the miners' legal team has run out.

That issue has been a major point of contention for the miners and their legal team, which brought the matter to the North Gauteng High Court last month.  The attorneys argued that the indigent miners should have funding for representation.

Commission spokesman Tshepo Mahlangu explained that because the commission is not a criminal court, the miners don't have a constitutional guarantee for representation.

"This commission is viewed in this country as an extension of the arm of the state organ.  In other words, it is an investigative body, it is not a court of law.  As a result, that is why the high court could not find any legal basis to grant an order that forces the president to be able to fund their legal costs," said Mahlangu.

The commission is now on a bit of a hiatus.  The miners have appealed the court decision to the Constitutional Court.  In the meantime, they are awaiting a donor who could fund them until a decision is made.

Apostle Sakhumzi Qiqimana, a preacher in the area, says the community has been watching closely, but a lack of funding for representation will send the wrong message.

"They were believing in the authorities, because they were trying to find truth when they were denied the right to be represented, because they don't have money to pay those lawyers.  So they are feeling like the authorities, they are using that to sabotage the results of the commission, so they are starting to go back and not believing again to the authorities," said Qiqimana.

Qiqimana added that people would just like an acknowledgment that what happened was wrong.  "A public apology is going to be very much critical for the police principals to go in public and say guys we were wrong, we didn't do our work correctly.  And then we are sorry, because our work was not supposed to kill people, our work was to disarm people,"  .  So the operation went wrong, so we are asking forgiveness for that.  We are sorry we've killed people.  If they can go in public doing that, I'm telling you all South Africa would be healed.  Because that's the only thing they are waiting for.  Even the families are crying tears because they feel as if the police are defending themselves throughout this."

Residents say the community has been plagued by violence since the massacre, with rival unions driving much of the violence.

Elizabeth Nkomo, who lives in the informal settlement next to the mining operation, said through a translator that the community has been prone to violence and life has not improved. "People are still being killed.  There's no weekend that goes by without any form of violence.  We are scared.  We don't know what might happen to us at what time," she said.

She's hopeful that the commission decision can bring some stability back to the area and improve lives. "We trust that it's going to help us.  We are just hoping the commission will help us and give us what we deserve and what we are asking for as a community," said Nkomo.

The commission will resume Monday when a decision on funding is expected.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid