Today the Constitutional Court dismissed applications for leave to appeal against two costs orders handed down by Judge Steenkamp in the Cape Town Labour Court. Judge Steenkamp’s orders were made against a group of farm workers and their union, the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU) after the workers and CSAAWU failed in their bids to challenge a series of unfair dismissals.
The effect of the decision is that CSAAWU will likely have to close down. An important space within which poor and vulnerable workers can assert their rights will close down with it. This is particularly disappointing given the fact that the Constitution and the Labour Relations Act were designed to open up legal spaces for poor people.
What is more disheartening is that, in our experience acting on behalf of farm workers in the Boland, it is clear that the sector is historically neglected by the justice system. Today’s decisions do not help to put this right.
On this day in 2012, Pumzile Sokanyile, Thembelakhe Mati, and Semi Jokanisi were killed at Marikana.
On the anniversary of their deaths, SERI, together with Sleeping Giant Films, have released a short film, which documents the experiences of the families of the miners killed at Marikana during the struggle for a living wage.
The film is titled "IMBOKODO - The Widows of Marikana", and addresses the ways in which the families fought to reclaim the legacies of their loved ones during the Farlam Commission, but continue to live in conditions of grinding poverty.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa represents 36 families of mineworkers killed by the police on the 13 and 16 August 2012. On Tuesday 11 August, the 36 families filed civil claims against the Minister of Police in the High Court in Pretoria.
The families are claiming compensation for the loss of the financial support of the deceased to their families; grief and emotional shock caused by the death of their husbands, fathers, brothers and caregivers; the medical expenses of psychological and psychiatric treatment; and their loss of family life and parental care.
The families also claim a formal apology from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones.
At 3pm tomorrow, 13 August 2015, SERI will launch a short film about the experiences, during the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, of the families of the miners killed at Marikana.
The families’ legal representatives will also be available to answer questions about the families’ action for damages against the Minister of Police, which was launched yesterday.
Representatives of the media are invited to attend. The briefing will take place in the SERI Conference Room at –
6th Floor, Aspern House, 54 De Korte Street, Braamfontein.
The families of the 37 mineworkers killed at Marikana on 13 and 16 August 2012 have filed civil claims against the Minister of Police in the High Court in Pretoria. The 37 families are represented by The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Wits Law Clinic.
In August 2012, these workers, with thousands of others, were on strike demanding a living wage. They were killed after the police opened fire. The majority of the deceased workers were the sole breadwinners of their families and supported large extended families on their meagre income. A total of 326 dependants relied on the deceased workers’ wages. Their families, living in the North West, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces, as well as Lesotho and Swaziland, continue to live in unbearable conditions of grinding poverty, and, despite some ex gratia assistance from charities and churches, remain destitute following their deaths.
The families are claiming compensation for:
The families also claim a formal apology from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones. An apology will bring much needed closure to the families who feel they have been have been abandoned by the South African government.
Kathleen Hardy, SERI attorney for the families, says “This civil suit should be unnecessary. The Marikana Commission of Inquiry spent more than two years establishing what was already clear in video and media footage: the SAPS are responsible for causing these deaths. We hope that the Minister will see the need for urgent compensation for the killing of these men”. Michael Power, LRC attorney for the Ledingoane family adds “We hope that the Minister of Police will act urgently on the civil claims, apologise to the families of the deceased workers for the loss that they have suffered, and provide the families with the sorely needed financial support.”