March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year it falls on a Wednesday. Chris Dwyer, a South African living in Australia, initiated a project in 2016 to mark International Women’s Day annually by hosting a film screening as a fundraiser to support women’s economic empowerment in South Africa.
The focus of the fundraiser is on the Marikana Widows. Khulumani has accompanied the Marikana widows since the day of the police shooting of 34 miners on the property of Lonmin Mining Company on the South African Platinum Belt. 17 were shot at Wonderkop and a further 17 at Scene Two, a smaller koppie where surrendering miners were seemingly killed in cold blood.
- The invitation to the fundrasier is attached as are photographs of the girls’ dignity packs called Days for Girls that are being produced through the funding assistance of Chris Dwyer to provide an alternative to sanitary towels for girls at school. (See the attached photographs)
The Marikana Massacre represented a turning point in our post-apartheid imagination that was focused on never again witnessing events that had marked apartheid brutal state repression.
While the state has committed to compensating the around 300 dependents of the killed miners, the terms of the compensation are still under negotiation and a key demand of the widows that the President issue a personal apology to the families, has not yet been achieved.
A useful review and analysis of the Marikana Commission Report has been produced by researcher David Bruce on behalf of CASAC (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution) who makes the following key findings: See: http://www.casac.org.za/
1. The term massacre is an appropriate term for describing the killings by the police of 34 strikers on the 16th of August.
2. The Marikana Commission report is a fair and balanced report that is in many ways even-handed in discussing the responsibility of the different parties and in allocating blame.
3. However the ‘key framing argument’ of the report creates a one-sided element within the report because it presents the strikers’ ‘intentions’ and disposition to violence as consistent throughout the conflict and fails to acknowledge the likelihood that this was strongly shaped by the events of the preceding week.
4. These weaknesses are carried forward into the report’s engagement with questions about ‘game changers’.
5. The adoption in the report of the argument (from the heads of argument of the evidence leaders) that the strikers who marched on the NUM offices had ‘violent intent’ is not well motivated and is inconsistent with other arguments put forward in the report relating to the intention of the group of strikers on the 16th. Nevertheless this document accepts that the NUM members may have reasonably believed that they were in danger as the strikers approached them.
6. The report does not properly acknowledge the likelihood that this confrontation, including the belief by the strikers that two of them had been killed by the NUM members, had on the perceptions of the strikers about the nature of the conflict in which they were involved. One implication of this is that it helps to make sense of the strikers determination to retain their weapons when the police asked them to surrender their weapons on the afternoon of the 13th prior to the confrontation that took place that afternoon in which five people, including two police, were killed.
7. More prominence should be given to questions about emotions in understanding the events of that week. In particular a key argument is that, as a result of the confrontation of 13th August, many police at Marikana had feelings of fear, as well as strong feelings of antipathy, towards the strikers. The document later argues that these emotions played an important role in contributing to police conduct on the afternoon of 16th August, most notably at scene 2.
8. The report’s interpretation of the evidence relating to the decision to launch the operation is not consistent with the evidence or with what is likely to have happened particularly in relation to the assertion that it is ‘common cause’ that the decision was taken by Lieutenant General Mbombo.
9. The name of Mr Mdze is omitted from the list of those killed at scene 1. The circumstances of the death of Mr Mdze are however a key motivation for one of the principal recommendations of the report regarding the provision of medical care to people who have been injured in shootings by the police.
10. This document provides an outline of issues to do with a legal evaluation of the actions of the police at Scene 1 at which 17 people were killed. However it is a mistake to regard the principle issues raised in relation to the killings by the police at scene 1 as issues of individual culpability. The scale of human carnage at scene 1 needs to be understood primarily as a result of the tactics that were used by the police at scene 1 (notably the use of a ‘basic line’) and the fact that the majority of members of this line were armed with assault rifles.
11. The killing of 17 people at Scene 2 is not accounted for in the Commission report. It is postulated that the phenomenon described as a ‘forward panic’ by American sociologist Randall Collins, may serve as a framework for understanding these events.
In conclusion, David Bruce notes that he focused on the handling by the Marikana Commission of key questions about the events of the 8-day period from 9-16 August 2012 in Marikana, and did not try to “assess or comment on issues arising from the report and the commission process” such as questions of compensation for the families and other people who were adversely affected by the events of that week, issues of justice, or the chronic dishonesty that characterised police and other engagement with the commission.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY (also known as International Working Women’s Day)
International Women’s Day (IWD), is celebrated on March 8 every year. In different regions of the world the focus of the celebrations range from events to demonstrate respect for and appreciation of women to events to support women’s economic, political and social inclusion in world still characterised by patriarchy.
The theme for the 2017 Commemoration is BE BOLD FOR CHANGE.