According to a report issued Thursday evening by the South African government, it was the failure of South Africa’s national police force to control its officers or failure to create a suitable plan to handle angry protestors that resulted in the killing of 34 striking miners three years ago.
The report was released after an address to the nation by President Jacob Zuma. The report exonerated numerous senior government officials in the deaths of the miners and instead blamed the mining company, Lonmin, and the unions for contributing to the killings with their own conduct by not quelling the violence.
The report in question referred to the strike which resulted in what is now known as the Marikana massacre which was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the apartheid driven Sharpeville massacre in 1960. Initially, the strike began over the fact that mining was not really benefiting the workers or communities that mining was used in. That, and the gross amounts of unemployment and inequalities in the workforce is what led to many mining workers being exploited by the mining companies. In August 2012, rock drillers initiated a wildcat strike in an attempt to triple their pay (which would have been a jump from USD $500 to USD $1500 per month). On August 16th, 2012, members of the South African police reportedly opened fire on groups of strikers, killing 34 and injuring 78. Since then, there have been numerous different testimonies over what happened and it has been difficult to determine who was at fault from a legal standpoint because of so many differing accounts.
However, the report of it being the failure of South African police is surely something that will help many sleep at night with regards to the South African government owning up to its mistakes and holding its officials responsible for their actions.