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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid