Declare Marikana massacre holiday - Judge John Hlope
Western Cape judge president John Hlope wants August 16, the day police shot dead 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana, be declared a public holiday.
"The 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto riots of 1976 have been declared holidays. Why not Marikana? The only difference between the two massacres and Marikana was that they were masterminded by the apartheid regime. I fail to understand the difference between Sharpville, Soweto riots and Marikana," said Hlope at the Marikana commemoration memorial lecture in Sandton, Johannesburg on Wednesday to mark the 6th anniversary of the shootings.
The lecture, which was organised by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, was attended by mostly Marikana widows and mineworkers.
Hlope said Marikana will always be a sad reminder that whenever there is a struggle there will be casualities. "Marikana must be recognised as a workers day to serve as a constant reminder to the powers that be that never again should we have the tragedy of this nature in this country."
He said the sad part was that the shootings happened under the nose of the democratically elected government. "We know the different players that were involved there… our own government that we elected. All the workers were asking for [on that day] and are still asking for is a decent wage."
Without mentioning names, Hlope said someone or group of people were behind the shooting. "One day the truth will come out. As long as the truth has not surfaced, we will continue to see the tears as we are seeing them today."
He also urged the mineworkers to continue fighting for economic freedom.