Marikana survivor facing murder charge says scars of 2012 massacre still there
Eight years after the Marikana shootings that left 34 people dead, former Lonmin miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana says for the first time since that fateful day, the miners are not gathering at the scene of the bloodshed to avoid breaking the law.
Magidiwana told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that when police had shot him seven times on August 16, 2012, they had accused him and his colleagues of being lawbreakers. With Covid-19 regulations still in place, barring them from gathering in large numbers, Magidiwana said if they dared gather at the koppie, police would again deem them lawbreakers.
“We are pained that we cannot go back there but we know it is beyond us as the workers and the union. If we were to go there today as the victims, other mineworkers would also come in their numbers and government would then accuse us, as Amcu, of failing to adhere to the law. You would then see government ... portray us as criminals,” Magidiwana said, speaking in isiXhosa.
He spoke to TimesLIVE as he headed to Midrand, where the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union was hosting a small commemoration ceremony.
The singing of struggle songs could be heard echoing in the background from the miners Magidiwana was travelling with.
“[By not gathering at the koppie], we want to show that we respect the law and government even though they showed us no respect,” Magidiwana added.
He said not being at the koppie this year did not take away the scars of what had unfolded eight years ago.
The 32-year-old suffered both emotional and physical injuries. Magidiwana was left severely injured and lost the use of his legs. He uses a crutch to walk.
“As those who were wronged, we were promised compensation. But we have not received a cent from government. Instead, while I was still injured after being shot by them, they accused me of wrongdoing and charged me,” Magidiwana said.
He faces criminal charges for, among other alleged offences, murder. The case is before the high court in Mahikeng.
Magidiwana and a group of other mineworkers had been gathered at the koppie as part of a wage-related strike. Police opened fire on the striking mineworkers, killing 34 of them. They had claimed that the miners had charged at them as they tried to disperse them.
Ten other people, including security guards and police officers were killed in the days before and after what became known as the Marikana massacre.
Magidiwana said he and other survivors still wished that the government would acknowledge that fateful day by marking August 16 as a public holiday.
“They could even move Workers’ Day to this day if they see fit because this is an important day, a day where the blood of black people was spilt by people who were supposed to enforce democracy in the time of freedom,” Magidiwana said.
Sibanye-Stillwater, which took over the reins from Lonmin last year, held a commemoration lecture in honour of the fallen miners on Friday.
Sibanye said it was aware of the legacy it had inherited when it took over Lonmin and said it was hoping for healing.
It said this was necessary for it to “reconcile with the past in order to collaborate for the future”.
Meanwhile some of the widows of the deceased miners were expected to host their own commemoration ceremony which would include a march to the koppie.