JUDGE PRESIDENT JOHN HLOPHE CALLS FOR 16 AUGUST TO BE OBSERVED AS SOUTH AFRICA’S WORKERS’ DAY IN COMMEMORATION OF THE MARIKANA MASSACRE

15 August 2018, Johannesburg – To mark the 6th anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, Judge President John Hlophe, of the Western Cape Division of the High Court of South Africa, delivered a key note address at the inaugural Marikana Massacre Commemoration Memorial Lecture today at the Sandton Convention Centre. The event, hosted by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), included speakers such as Political Analyst Ralph Mathekga, Advocate Dali Mpofu and AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa.

The lecture was held in memory and in commemoration of the 37 mineworkers who lost their lives during a massacre at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana on 16 August 2012, following a week-long protest by workers demanding a wage increase.

In his speech Judge President Hlophe said “The dictionary is very clear that a massacre is the killing of many people. There are many similarities between the 1960 Sharpville Massacre, the 1976 Soweto Youth Uprising and the 2012 Marikana Massacre. The only two major differences are the reasons behind the protests and that in June 16 and in Sharpville, people were murdered by the racist regime. Marikana however, happened right under the nose of our democratically elected government. Marikana, in my mind, was nothing more than a normal labour dispute. Workers were not satisfied with their working conditions, their safety at work and most importantly their minimum wage, and therefore took to protest. Unfortunately, it was allowed to escalate out of control. 37 of the workers were killed. It is no more than what it is – it is a massacre”.

He added, “both Sharpville and June 16 acquired the status of a public holiday – Marikana is such a similar event and there is no reason why the government should not observe this day as well, as a workers’ holiday in South Africa.

In his introduction of Judge President Hlophe, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said “I never got a chance to go to university or college. My English is shop steward English. But I am glad I have academics seated behind me who are able to differentiate between a massacre and an incident”.

Mathunjwa hailed Judge Hlophe as an educated man who is not favoured by capitalism because, as educated as he is, he has a mind of his own – not enslaved by his education and can see the truth for what it is.

Guest speaker, Ralph Mathekga said, “Marikana is a democratic tragedy – there is no diplomatic way of putting it. That day human rights were disrespected. The most fundamental rights being the right to live, the right to dignity and the right to withhold labour. The international community is more concerned about Marikana than our own country. Last week, I was emailed questions from an international media house asking about Marikana. I have not received such a request from SA media. Last year, Transparency International, the global anti-corruption coalition, issued a statement voicing their concern that there have not been any consequences to what happened in Marikina on 12 August 2012. Until this day, nobody has been prosecuted, and South Africa is quiet. My biggest worry is that South Africa sees Marikana as an ordinary atrocity, a misunderstanding – and not for exactly what it is – a Massacre”.

A surprise visit from Advocate Dali Mpofu saw him use the opportunity to give members an update from a legal perspective. “As a representative of the injured and arrested, we have had various meetings with government who have made offers. We have considered some of the offers – a report will be given at the wreath laying ceremony in Marikana tomorrow”. He added, “The government has been torturing us , promising money and making all kinds of promises in the media. We’ve continuously asked them speak directly to the families rather than scoring points in the public domain by promising millions to the families of the deceased workers”.

AMCU will be hosting their annual wreath laying service in Marikana on Thursday, 16 August in memory of the lives lost along with their loved ones.

Judge President John Hlophe’s full speech can be found on our website.