Marikana families still in dark over settlements: Socio-Economic Rights Institute

10 October 2015 - 10:59
By Adam Wakefield, News24

The families of the miners killed at Marikana were in the dark as to when the government would begin its announced settlement process, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) said.

Neither the families nor their legal representatives have been engaged on the proposals president Jacob Zuma touched on in his announcement, Seri said in a statement.

"This is despite the families’ legal representatives have made exhaustive attempts to contact the government’s lawyers and to obtain any relevant information," Seri said.

On September 29, Zuma announced the government was looking to start an alternative dispute resolution process to expedite claims arising from the Marikana shootings.

"A judge, assisted by experts, will be asked to lead this process to reinforce its independence. The government will engage with the legal representatives of claimants and encourage them to use this process," Zuma said at the time.

"To the extent some do not lend their co-operation or it is not possible to resolve claims through mediation, government will seek to do so through the court process."

The president said the government was still considering recommendations made by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Marikana in August 2012.

"Government wishes to move forward to address the consequences of the incidents at Marikana. These incidents include not only the deaths and injuries of striking miners, but the deaths of other miners, security officials and police officers." Zuma said the Marikana massacre hurt the nation and the time had come for healing to begin.

Seri said police minister Nathi Nhleko had indicated on opposing damage claims lodged by the families of those killed at Marikana in August 2012.

"The families filed claims in August 2015 against the minister for compensation and a formal apology for the loss of their loved ones," Seri said.

"On September 7, 2015, the minister asked for one month to consider and respond to the families’ claims. The families agreed to the minister’s request on the basis he intended to bring forward a proposal to settle the claims."

However, as of Friday, no proposal has yet been received.

Zuma and Nhleko's conduct continued the "unfortunate patter of disrespect" which has characterised the government's attitude to the families of those killed at Marikana since August 2012.

"Almost two months have passed since the families’ claims were filed. However, they have not been contacted and only heard of a possible response to their claims through the media," Seri said.

"The families have now waited more than three years for justice for the killing of their loved ones. They continue to live in conditions of grinding poverty and the need for compensation is urgent."

If the government’s intention was to settle the claims, Seri called on both the presidency and the police ministry to contact the families’ legal representatives and make settlement proposals through the appropriate channels.

Source: News24