During his reply to the state of the nation address debate in Parliament on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the state was committed to compensating the families of the striking miners who were killed by police on 13 and 16 August 2012 during the Marikana massacre. In August 2012, these workers, with thousands of others, were on strike demanding a living wage when they were killed after police opened fire on them.

Talking from the podium, Ramaphosa said: “We must be prepared‚ as government‚ that where we have failed our people‚ where we have made mistakes‚ we will take steps to correct those mistakes. One of such was the Marikana tragedy which stands out as the darkest moment in the life our young democracy.” He promised that he was personally “determined to play whatever role [he could] in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana.” 

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), that represents the 36 families of the striking miners who were killed at Marikana (along with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Wits Law Clinic), welcomes Ramaphosa’s comments and hopes that his promises will lead to action on the part of the state.

If the state is serious about atoning for the Marikana massacre, the families of those killed at Marikana have indicated that a meaningful response will include:

  • A formal and sincere apology to the families of those killed from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones
  • The state has to approach the issue of compensation with an attitude that acknowledges the state’s culpability in the massacre
  • The state must ensure that the police officers responsible for the murder of the mine workers are criminally charged and prosecuted for their actions

If the state takes these steps it will bring much needed closure to the families who feel that they have been abandoned by the South African government.

  • Read the full statement here
  • Read more about the Marikana families’ damages claim against the SAPS here.
  • Read the presentations made by the families of the deceased miners before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry here.