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 Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid