On Wednesday, 23 March 2022, Jacana media will host a virtual launch for a new book by Julian Brown entitled "Marikana: A People’s History". The book comes as this year marks 10 years since the Marikana massacre. The online launch will consist of a conversation between Julian Brown and SERI's Nomzamo Zondo, moderated by Amandla.mobi's Koketso Moeti.
The book is the first that tells the story of Marikana from the perspective of the striking miners themselves. The book locates the strike within the context of South Africa's history of racial and economic exclusion and tells the story of how the strike unfolded by drawing from interviews with the striking mineworkers and their families. The book also provides an analysis of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, from a perspective that centres the mineworkers and their experiences.
"The Marikana families have long awaited a story which reflects their lives before and after the massacre with honesty and depth. This is that story" - Nomzamo Zondo
In February, SERI’s Nomzamo Zondo participated in a webinar panel discussion on media coverage of commissions in South Africa. The webinar was the last in the webinar series entitled ‘Reporting the Courts’ jointly hosted by the South African Editors Forum and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. Nomzamo spoke alongside Bongiwe Gambu (spokesperson for the Jiba Commission); Erin Bates (legal writer for the Business Day) and Advocate Paul Pretorius (State Capture Commission). The aim of the webinar series was to accompany the relaunch of the Reporting the Courts Manual.
Nomzamo reflected on SERI's experience of participating in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, representing the families of the miners killed. In her inputs, Nomzamo discussed the importance of ensuring that the public is kept abreast of developments in Commissions to ensure greater public scrutiny, transparency and to justify the use of public funds. For example, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry cost the public R153 million. She emphasised the need for media coverage of commissions to centre victims in any ongoing investigations and reporting and to keep victims on the public agenda. Nomzamo also discussed the importance of adopting a 'long-haul' approach and for media houses to invest in consistent attendance by journalists and not just the attendance of headlining testimony, to build vast public knowledge of the range of matters considered by a particular Commission. She argued that consistent attendance helps to create trust and build relationships with victims groups.
On 21 – 23 February, SERI hosted a paralegal workshop for the Inner City Federation on eviction law and rights. The workshop was attended by 15 members and leaders of the ICF. The three day workshop sought to train ICF leaders on the use of the law in defending socio-economic rights, educate participants on PIE rights and how to assist others to resist illegal evictions in the inner city and educate participants on the court process and drafting court papers.
The ICF is a coalition of low-income tenants and unlawful occupiers in inner city Johannesburg, who have either been forcibly evicted or live under the threat of eviction. Since it’s formation in 2015, number of tenants and unlawful occupiers who are affiliated with the ICF has grown to include over 50 buildings
The three-day workshop provided participants with practical examples of defending against an illegal eviction, equipped them with the basics of representing themselves in court and guided them on how to draft various court papers.
On 22 February 2022, SERI hosted a workshop on “Assisting domestic workers to claim from the Compensation Fund”. The workshop was attended by 8 case managers from South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA) and Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance.
Domestic workers have been included in Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) since 19 November 2020 when the Constitutional Court handed down an order in Mahlangu v Minister of Labour, declaring the constitutional invalidity of section 1(xix)(v) of COIDA which excluded domestic workers employed in private households from the definition of "employee", precluding them from claiming from the Compensation Fund for work-related injuries, illnesses or death. The Court also ruled that the order of constitutional invalidity is to have immediate and retrospective effect from 27 April 1994, which means that those domestic workers and dependants who have experienced work-related injuries, diseases or death as far back as 27 April 1994 are also able to submit their claims.
The purpose of the workshop was to build understanding around COIDA, the claiming process and to identify the steps needed to be taken when assisting domestic workers with their claims. The workshop began with a presentation on COIDA, what constitutes an occupational injury, who can lodge a claim and the implications of the Mahlangu judgment by SERI candidate attorney, Tebogo Tshehlo, followed by a step by step overview of the claiming process by SERI researcher Kelebogile Khunou and SERI candidate attorney Asenati Tukela. Throughout the workshop the domestic worker representatives presented active cases and shared their experiences assisting domestic workers with COIDA claims. SERI senior attorney Thulani Nkosi, who has been involved in the Mahlangu case since its inception and has been involved in the processing of Ms Sylvia Mahlangu’s retrospective claim, shared his own experience and led the question and answer portions of the workshop.
The joint experiences of the respective organisations highlighted several issues in implementing the Mahlangujudgment:
At the end of the workshop all the participants expressed that their understanding of COIDA, the Mahlangujudgment, and the steps they need to take to assist a domestic worker with a potential claim, had advanced significantly.
Today marks a year since the police killing of Mthokozisi Ntumba in Braamfontein. On 10 March 2021, police responded to student protests at the University of the Witwatersrand about rising student debt and financial exclusion at the university. To disperse the protest, police resorted to firing rubber bullets at students, using water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades. Mr Ntumba was shot and killed in an incident where the police pursued students into Braamfontein and fired rubber bullets indiscriminately into crowds. Mr Ntumba, who was leaving doctors’ rooms and was not involved in the protests, was fatally wounded. One year later, SERI remembers Mr Ntumba and remains outraged that his death was completely avoidable.
When the Minister of Police released the Marikana Panel of Experts report on Policing and Crowd Management soon after Mr Ntumba’s death, he indicated that the police ministry had already begun implementing the report that was submitted to his office in July 2018. To date the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police has expressed its support for the report, having met to discuss it in December 2021. However, it remains unclear what measures have already been implemented and what plans there are for further implementation.
Mr Ntumba’s death highlighted the urgent need for the report to be implemented. The Panel of Experts recommend that rubber bullets be used “only under strict command” and that, at a minimum, SAPS members should be enabled and obliged to implement any use of KIPs [Kinetic Impact Projectiles] in a manner consistent with the “principle of differentiation”. The principle of differentiation holds that where the use of force is unavoidable, police must use it in a targeted manner and not indiscriminately against a crowd, as was the case with Mr Ntumba.
Mr Ntumba’s death has been yet another example of the costs of the police’s approach to protest management which favours excessive and indiscriminate use of force. The trial into his death is revealing flawed police understanding of the dangers associated with the use of rubber bullets in crowd management. According to the United Nations Human Rights Guidance on LLWs in Law Enforcement, KIPs that fire multiple projectiles at the same time, like the shotguns used by SAPS, “are inaccurate and, in general, their use cannot comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality”.
SERI and its partners have advocated that: (1) the Panel of Experts report be adopted as policy by the Minister; (2) the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service provide guidance to the Minister with a clear, time-bound implementation plan; and (3) Parliament supports implementation through oversight by requiring regular reports on implementation progress. In remembering Mr. Ntumba, SERI echoes calls for the urgent implementation of the Panel of Experts report and for a ban on the use of rubber bullets in public order policing.
Download the full statement here.