- It has been 7 years since the Marikana tragedy
- The incident saw the death of 34 striking mine workers
- It was the most brutal incident of police violence in democratic SA
On this day 7 years ago, police opened fire, killing 34 striking mine-workers at Marikana, North West Province.
The killings took place at two locations, roughly 500 metres away from each other, with 17 people fatally wounded at each of these locations. The vast majority of those killed were by the South African Police Service. The official figure for strikers injured during the shooting is 78, while more than 250 were arrested.
The protesting miners were demanding a wage increase at the Lonmin platinum mine. This was marked as the biggest incident of police brutality since the dawn of democracy. Many likened it to the security police brutality suffered under apartheid.
Speaking at a press conference, the SAPS claimed its officers had been under attack by a group of armed mine-workers. They said that the miners had refused a request to disarm and attacked them with various weapons, including firearms taken from two police officers killed earlier in the week. South Africa's Police Commissioner, Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega claimed that the 500-strong police force was attacked.
President Jacob Zuma cut short his attendance of the 32nd Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, in order to visit the site of the incident. When he returned, he announced that a commission of inquiry would be established to investigate the incident. He said that the truth needed to be uncovered.
Zuma appointed retired Judge Ian Farlam as Chairman of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. His announcement came amid memorial services for the deceased held in the Eastern Cape, North West and Johannesburg.
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