Rights groups demand police accountability for Marikana massacre

Rights groups with interests in the 2012 Marikana massacre continue to ask why it took seven years to bring the police officers accused of killing mineworkers before the courts.

The Socio Economic Rights Institutions (SERI) and Right to Know (R2K) made the statements on Monday during a protest as former North West deputy police commissioner, major-general William Mpembe, appeared at the Mankwe Magistrate’s Court.

Mpembe has been charged – along with Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule – of contravening the Commission Act, the Ipid Act and defeating the ends of justice by lying about the death of 60-year-old mineworker Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

The inquiry was established to probe the massacre, which led to 34 protesters being killed during a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana.

The State has alleged that the policemen failed to report that Sagalala died in police custody and not in hospital or at the koppie where other mineworkers were killed. According to the state, 30 mineworkers were killed at the scene and four died in hospital.

R2K’s national outreach organiser, Bongani Xezwa, told African News Agency (ANA) that justice had to be served for the people of Marikana to find closure.

“We are in protest of the current situation that is happening here. We are calling for justice. We are aware of what is happening and what transpired in 2012. We are here to say justice needs to prevail, William Mpembe and those implicated need to be held accountable for their conduct and the things they did in the Marikana massacre in 2012,” he said.

“We’ve been watching and it has taken so long. We have heard from the court that the Independent Police Investigation Directorate was stopped from doing investigations for some time. Someone by now needs to see that we have justice that needs to serve people,” he added.

SERI’s director of litigation, Nomzamo Zondo, said the organisation was intent on seeing that justice prevailed. She said the families wanted to see criminal accountability for the deaths of their family members.

“The Sagalala family is interested in the fact that they spent three years in the commission of inquiry where they wanted to find out what happened. But the police successfully concealed how he died and where he died. And they want to see those involved in the concealing of how he died are brought to book,” said Zondo.

Proceedings continue on Tuesday.

African News Agency (ANA)

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