In 2012, the mining sector underwent intense waves of labour unrest. On 16 August 2012, the mining industry (Platinum Sector) received the world’s attention, when 34 mineworkers who took part in an unprotected strike were shot and killed by the officers of the South African Police Services (SAPS) at the hills of Rooikopies also known as Marikana in Rustenburg. This was the culmination of preceding waves of unrest and violence. The Marikana Massacre was essentially a dispute about living conditions and salary by the rock drill operators, they demanded a wage increase of R12 500 per month, and to support these demands the embarked on a wildcat strike.
These events left so many questions in particular the state of the country, its democratic system and who was responsible. Big names such as the Deputy State President Cyril Ramaphosa who at the time was a non-executive director at Lomnin, former Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, former mineral resource minister Susan Shabangu and the National Police Commissioner Ria Phiyega who were pressured to act, were accused. A day later, after the killings the President of the State Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, in terms of section 84(2)(F) of the Constitution.
The commission was known as the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and also as Farlam Commission named after its Chair, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ian Gordon Farlam. Other members included and Advocate (Adv) Pingla Devi Hemraj SC and Adv Bantubonke Regent Tokota. The commission’s first seating was on 1 October 2012 and its final sitting was on the 14 November 2014 and its report was submitted to the State president on 31 March 2015.
The Commission’s main findings and recommendations
The report absolved the key political figures who were accused of having a hand in the events leading to the massacre, these political key figures being Nathi Mthethwa, Cyril Ramaphosa and Susan Shabangu. It also found that Lonmin had failed to engage with workers and the trade unions operating in that sector, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) were found not to have full control of its members who embarked on the unprotected strike.
The commission made number of recommendations regarding the fitness of the heads of police. The commission recommended inquiries on Ria Phinyega who was the National Police Commissioner and the Northwest Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo, regarding their fitness to run the office. It also made number of recommendations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) such as investigating and possibly prosecuting those committed the massacre and other killings before that. There were also a number of recommendations regarding future policing of protests.