'Cyril must visit Marikana victims'

On August 16 2012 police opened fire on protesting mineworkers.
On August 16 2012 police opened fire on protesting mineworkers.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

President Cyril Ramaphosa should initiate a meeting with families of the 44 deceased Marikana miners in order for the healing process to begin.

BenchMarks Foundation chairman Bishop Joe Seoka said this yesterday after Ramaphosa promised parliament that the families would receive compensation after the 2012 Marikana shooting.

"Cyril must do more than just saying he wants to do something. He . needs to visit the Marikana miners and families and engage them on the role the president could play in the healing process.

"The miners, the widows and the orphans are the ones who must say 'this is what will help us'."

Seoka said no amount of money could heal their wounds. "You can never replace life with money."

During his reply to the debate of the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly yesterday, Ramaphosa said government needed to take responsibility for its "sins".

"We must be prepared as government that where we have failed our people, where we have made mistakes, we will take steps to correct those mistakes. One of such was the Marikana tragedy which stands out as the darkest moment in our young democracy. Members will recall that the Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Judge [Ian] Farlam investigated the direct and root causes of the tragedy," he said.

"The incident also brought into sharp focus the distress felt by people in mining communities. As we engage with mining communities and unions on the finalisation of the mining charter, we need to ensure that these measures receive priority measures."

The president said that as a former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, he would never call for the killing of mineworkers, or anybody else.

"I am guided by the needs and the wishes of the families of the 44 workers that lost their lives. Alongside Marikana, the Life Esidimeni tragedy stands out as an instance of the most appalling dereliction by the state of its duty to its people."

Ramaphosa was non-executive director at Lonmin's platinum mines at the time, when police shot dead 34 protesters, most employed by the company, and injured at least 78 during a wildcat strike in 2012.

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