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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs