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.”
In the week leading up to the third commemoration of the Marikana massacre, which takes place on 16 August 2015, SERI will be paying tribute to the miners whose families we represented at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, and who we continue to represent in the legal proceedings following the release of the commission's findings.
Starting today, we will be profiling miners on every day leading up to the commemoration. To see the faces behind the numbers and to read more about the miners, how they were killed and the impact their deaths have had on their families visit our Facebook page or follow our Twitter feed.
SERI researcher, Dennis Webster, and visiting attorney, Michael Leonard, have written an op-ed in the Mail and Gaurdian in response to the 'bad buildings' discourse that has come to the fore in the wake of recent evictions in Berea.
In particular, they are responding to an article published in the paper last week, which spoke at length about Chung Hua Mansions - an inner city building whose residents are represented by SERI. The article followed a familiar trope by suggesting that the conditions in so-called 'bad building's in the inner city, and the lengthy legal proceedings that building owners face when trying to evict their occupiers, are discouraging investment in the inner city.
Webster and Leonard argue that instead of decrying the inconvenience of 'bad buildings' to property owners, attention should be paid to the fact that the state can and must increase the availability of dignified and affordable housing, and foster the development of a city that all can enjoy. Further, they suggest that the government should work with those living in unsafe buildings to secure alternative accommodation – not just begrudgingly, when a court order requires it, but proactively, whenever someone actually needs it.
SERI's Director of Litigation, Nomzamo Zondo, has been selected as one of the Mail & Guardian's 200 Young South Africans for 2015. The publication profiles notable South African's under the age of 35 who are contributing to the positive development of the country.
The publication recognises Zondo's work defending communities from eviction, securing the rights of informal traders and working with people from informal settlements that need upgrading, as well as her involvement in the representation of the families of the deceased miners during the Marikana commission of inquiry.
Kenya's 5th Public Interest Litigation Colloquium is currently being held in Kisumu. SERI's Executive Director, Stuart Wilson, addressed the colloquium yesterday on different ways of enforcing socio-economic rights decisions.
Wilson's presentation focused on issues of preserving political space, protecting informal traders, preventing evictions, and enhancing access to housing. Contextualising how South African courts interpret and enforce socio-economic rights, he drew on SERI's experience to foreground important interpretive and enforcement strategies, as well as key examples of having judgments executed.