Honour the right to life
MARIKANA is about life. The starting point should be the right to life to which all South Africans are entitled.
It is a constitutional right that sets South Africa apart from other murderous states. It also sets the rule-of-law-abiding state apart from the apartheid one.
The Lonmin mineworkers who were killed were entitled to their right to life.
The police officers who were killed were also entitled to their right to life.
But the killings happened because the right to life was demoted to a secondary right.
Freedom of association, the right to strike and the right for police officers to arm themselves reigned over the right to life.
The mineworkers had been toiling in the belly of the earth in an attempt to eke out a living. They went on strike in a bid to improve their lives.
In the process they were not entitled to engage in violence that resulted in the killing of other workers and police officers.
But there are remedies for those who threatened or kill others. Those remedies do not include killing.
You cannot enforce the right to life by taking another life. That's what the Constitutional Court established in the precedent-setting judgment in State vs Makwanyane. The police wantonly trampled on that principle when they became killing agents.
If this is entrenched as a new policing strategy the police will lose their legitimacy in the eyes of citizens and Marikana will repeat itself in different places and under various guises.
The right to life must regain its rightful place. It must neither be killed nor demoted.