Retired judge Ian Farlam, who chaired the government-instituted judicial commission of inquiry into the August 2012 Marikana massacre — in which at least 44 people including protesting Lonmin mineworkers, police officers, and security officials were killed in Marikana, outside Rustenburg — on Wednesday, expressed concern over the slow pace of implementing his recommendations.
Farlam was one of the panellists at an Institute for Security Studies’ seminar analysing the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) conduct at, and after, the 2012 shootings.
“There had been a mistaken belief that if we remilitarise the police, you bring the crime rate down. The military ranks were brought back and the police are still armed. Even some members of public order policing at Marikana had R5 [assault rifles]. All of TRT (tactical response team) had R5s,” said Farlam.
He said it was difficult for any police minister to change the ranks, which would go a long way in changing attitudes among police officers.
“You can’t blame someone who has a title of “general” or “brigadier” for somehow thinking they can act in a paramilitary way. As far as I know, that still hasn’t been done. We recommended that the recommendations of the National Development Plan that the police should be re-demilitarised should be implemented as a matter of urgency. That hasn’t been done and that is a very unsatisfactory situation.”
Farlam said the massacre at Marikana was probably engineered by that militarisation of the SAPS “that took place from 2000 onwards”.
The retired judge told the seminar that “the delays are disturbing” with regards to bringing to book individuals who committed various crimes at Marikana.
“I’m happy with the implementation on the recommendation on the panel of experts to ensure we have a world best practices’ police force. I’m happy with that. As far as the investigation dealing with the prosecution of those who may well have committed crimes at Marikana, the delays are disturbing. I don’t know why the delays took place. It is unsatisfactory,” said Farlam.
“It is difficult to condemn, unless you know the full facts. Certainly, it is a matter for great concern, not only on my part, but I’m sure for everybody in the country.”
Different units of the SAPS opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesting mineworkers encamped on a hill in the Nkaneng informal settlement. Thirty-four mineworkers were shot by the police on 16 August 2012, with a further 78 wounded and 275 arrested. The workers had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks, and iron rods.
Ten people, including six mineworkers, two Lonmin security officers and two policemen, were killed in the days leading up to the August 16 massacre.
Workers at the mine went on strike on August 10, demanding a monthly salary of R12,500.
The Marikana massacre is commemorated annually on August 16. On Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling on him to declare an official Marikana Memorial Day.