South Africa: police officers to be charged over killing of 42 miners

Four years after Marikana Massacre state announces charges and compensation

Striking miners  on August 27th, 2012, near where police shot and killed 42 miners days earlier. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Striking miners on August 27th, 2012, near where police shot and killed 42 miners days earlier. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters


Some police officers involved in a notoriousshooting incident in which 44 people were killed during a week-long standoff between striking miners and police will face charges ranging from murder to defeating the ends of justice, said the South African government.

On Sunday evening the presidency released a statement saying that, in addition to this, victims of the mass shooting in August 2012 in the North West province would receive compensation from the state.

The latest developments around the killing of two police officers and 42 striking miners at Lonmin mine’s flagship platinum operation were cautiously welcomed by victims’ representatives, given the delays they have encountered in achieving justice.

Commission of inquiry

The Marikana Massacre, between August 10th and 20th, 2012, happened when hundreds of miners were in an illegal strike over pay.

The worst of the confrontations between the miners and police occurred on August 16th, when 34 miners were shot dead as senior police tried to implement an ill-conceived plan to end the strike.

Following the shooting, president Jacob Zuma established the Marikana Commission of Inquiry to investigate the deaths. In 2015 it concluded that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in North West province should investigate a wide range of claims that were made against police.

Based on the regional prosecution authority’s findings, the National Prosecuting Authority has been working in collaboration with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to consider whether charges should be brought against any of the police officers involved.

Investigators found that the senior officer in command of controlling the strike scene on August 13th was remiss in his duties, which led to the deaths of two officers and three miners. He has been charged with four counts of murder and six of attempted murder in respect of miners injured on the day.

Denying role

He also faces charges of defeating the ends of justice, as well as falsely testifying at the commission of inquiry and denying his role in ordering the police to fire teargas at the strikers, the presidency said.

A colonel, warrant officer and a constable have all been charged with the murder of one of the three miners killed on August 13th.

Criminal cases have also been opened against a number of senior officers who were on the scene on August 16th when the 34 miners were shot dead in two incidents.

“Forensic, ballistic and other evidence, including the authentication of incident footage, are still outstanding. Also, indications are that the police might have tampered with the crime scene,” said the presidency, suggesting further charges are likely.