“In order to take the process forward, government lawyers have been instructed to invite the legal representatives of all the claimants to a round table discussion to be held on or before 29 January 2016. The meeting will be aimed at discussing the process to resolve the claims in a manner which is transparent, effective and expeditious,” said the statement from the presidency on Tuesday.
After the presidency announced in September an alternative process would seek to resolve the Marikana compensation claims, lawyers for the claimants have been frustrated by the lack of information on how the out-of-court discussion would proceed. Lawyers for the 275 injured and arrested mineworkers and those for the 37 families of those convicted in Marikana this week said they had not heard anything from the State since September and it had in fact filed opposing papers calling their civil compensation claims vague, embarrassing and said they failed to prove a cause of action.
The Presidency’s statement on Tuesday explained the legal process had to continue for now. “Unfortunately, the court processes are dictated by time limits. Whilst government is considering these claims and the proposed process, both parties have continued to file the necessary court pleadings to ensure compliance with the court rules.”
Kathleen Hardy, an attorney at Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), which is representing the 37 families, said on Tuesday they still haven’t received any direct communication from the presidency and their position remains the same. While the State fails to communicate any alternative mechanism with the applicants, the court process remains the way forward.
Attorney Andries Nkome, who represents the 275 injured and arrested mineworkers of Marikana, was not impressed by the announcement. “This foments our clients’ view that the presidency is treating them with contempt because they always hear in the media the president’s intentions with their matter,” he said. “We have not been written or called by the presidency or their attorneys. The sooner we settle this matter, the better for our clients, who for three years now [have gone] without proper medical care.”
Families of 37 people who died in Marikana have filed a case for compensation based on the loss of the financial support of the deceased, grief and emotional shock, the medical expenses of psychological and psychiatric treatment, the loss of family life and parental care. They have not announced how much they’re seeking. The 275 injured and arrested mineworkers have filed claims against the state and Lonmin, looking for millions for each applicant.
While the relatives of those who died in August 2012 and the injured and arrested mineworkers are still yet to see any criminal justice, compensation remains a huge issue. The Marikana Commission of Inquiry said it couldn’t make findings on the matter. Relatives of those who died have received some donations, been offered jobs at Lonmin and the company is also paying for the education of their children, but financial support for the families and workers and the negligence shown by the police remains a key issue.
While the process announced by the presidency could be a welcome development, its failure to chart a way forward since September could suggest state leaders are conflicted over compensation discussions and invite scepticism.
Meanwhile, activists have made advances in their attempts to have Miners Shot Down, a documentary focusing on the week of Marikana 2012 and its broader political context, screened on public television. e.tv, which has expressed its willingness to air the documentary, is in discussion with director Rehad Desai about airing the film on eNCA on 16 December in a prime time slot, with e.tv potentially airing the documentary in January.
Over 5,000 people have signed community advocacy organisation amandla.mobi’s petition to have Miners Shot Down screened on e.tv and SABC. (It has already been screened on DSTV and Al-Jazeera.) Calls for the documentary to be broadcast to the majority of South Africans increased recently, when it added an Emmy Award to its list of achievements.
“I think it is important that the story of the massacre be shown on TV so that people can be educated about what happened,” Mme Ntsenyeho, whose husband Andries was killed in Marikana, has said in support of the film. While there have been claims e.tv and SABC haven’t aired the documentary for political reasons, the ANC recently congratulated the film for its Emmy win. DM
Photo: Special task force members and policemen walk back to their cars after protesting miners were shot outside a Marikana mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.
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