Deal with Marikana

Marikana massacre site.
Marikana massacre site.
Image: File Photo

Marikana has been like an albatross around the neck of Cyril Ramaphosa for years.

The massacre of people at the hands of the police simply for demanding improved pay and better working conditions was unimaginable under a democratic order and the state supposedly on the side of the oppressed.

Thirty-four mine workers were mowed down on August 16 2012, when police opened fire on the strikers. Preceding that 10 other people linked to the strike, including security guards and police officers, were murdered.

It remains a blot on the history of a democratic South Africa that years later there has yet to be closure on many fronts about the events of and leading to that day.

Safe for the axing of a police commissioner who proved woefully out of her depth when Marikana happened, few others have owned up to their role in the sorry affair.

Ahead of the day Ramaphosa, who is today the president of the country, wrote to the then police minister in an e-mail seen by many, especially his political rivals, as putting pressure on the police to act against the strikers - eventually leading to the massacre.

A subsequent commission of inquiry eventually exonerated him but the stench has simply refused to go away. He made what many considered a feeble attempt at an apology during his campaign for the presidency of the ANC.

Now as newly elected president of the country, Ramaphosa found himself again having to deal with Marikana at the debate yesterday of his maiden State of the Nation Address. This underlines the need to address the matter once and for all if he is to get on with the programme of running the country.

It was heartening to hear him, albeit in response to pressure, acknowledge the need to be seen to atone sufficiently for Marikana.

Doing so will heal the pain of those wronged one way or the other, while simultaneously removing what has sadly been turned unashamedly in some quarters into a political football regardless of the pain it perpetuates.

We hope he addresses the issue adequately, with the help of those wronged - more so the workers and families of the deceased.

That will speak to the tone the man has set since ascending to the highest office in the land that now indeed is the time to start afresh, heal and rebuild. Any half-hearted attempts will simply not wash.

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