Government joins the nation in commemorating the tragic Marikana incidents which occurred six years ago on 16 August 2012. The tragic death of 44 miners and members of the South African Police Service is an incident that was deeply regrettable in our young democracy. As we remember those South Africans that lost their lives, let’s also reflect on what is it that we should do to strengthen our democracy and prevent such incidences as we continue the journey to nurture our democracy and improve the lives of South Africans.
Government established the Marikana Commission of Inquiry led by Judge Ian Gordon Farlam to investigate the circumstances that led to this tragedy and importantly what is that we need to do as a nation to prevent such occurrences.
The outcome of the inquiry made recommendations in three broad areas which entailed (1) compensation for the injured and families‚ (2) examining the procedures of Public Order Policing, and (3) preparing valid cases for prosecution according to applicable laws.
Reparations to the families
Government has made great progress in implementing these recommendations. A total of R67 million has been paid out to the finalised cases of the families that lost their respective breadwinners. With respect to compensation for general damages, government has made various offers and is still awaiting the acceptance of the offer from the attorneys of the affected families.
Training of the South African Police Services (SAPS)
The SAPS has also made great progress in strengthening the capacity of the public order policing. A total of 3 825 members from Public Order Policing have participated in basic training and in crowd management. SAPS will be increasing the number of the police to be training in Public Order Policing this year.
Over and above implementing the Marikana Commission of Inquiry recommendations, Government is determined to uplift and advance the socio-economic status of our people, in and around mines and mining towns, in partnership with communities, business and labour.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) completed its investigations into the killing of 3 miners and 2 policemen. IPID handed the docket with evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). 6 suspects were arrested and 3 were summonsed, one suspect was charged for both cases. The suspects face charges of murder, defeating the ends of justice, attempted murder, and contravention of section 6(2) of the Commissions Act and contravention of section 29(1) of the IPID Act.
Improving the living condition of the communities in the mining towns
Government identified distressed mining communities in several municipalities of eight provinces for priority intervention (Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga, Free State, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape Provinces). Interventions include human settlements upgrading, improved land use management, increased home ownership and rental housing opportunities, extension of bulk infrastructure to support service delivery and structured partnerships between government, mining companies and communities for socio-economic improvement.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for the Special Presidential Package for Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Communities Project, Chaired by the Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, was set up in 2012 to oversee the implementation of socio-economic challenges in Mining communities to achieve four outcomes:
Achieving integrated and sustainable human settlements, led by the Department of Human Settlement
Decent living conditions for mine workers and meaningful contribution to the development trajectory of mining towns and labour sending areas, led by Department of Mineral Resources
Improving working conditions of mine workers and the health of mining communities led by the Department of Health and supported by the Department of Labour and Department of Minerals Resources Mine Health and Safety Directorate, and
Improving socio-economic conditions, led by Department of Trade and Industry and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
The mining sector has historically made a significant contribution to the South African GDP and employment. Mining still remains at the heart of our economy. Despite the South African mining sector facing challenges due to the falling global prices of commodities, modernisation of the mining sector, ensuring the profitability of the sector as well as the retention of jobs are critical priorities. Legislative reform is necessary for these reasons to enable the country to benefit from its rich mineral resources and enhance value addition into the future, in an inclusive manner.
The IMC has provided cross-departmental co-ordination to ensure the realisation of the objectives of the Minerals Act is achieved to steer the mining industry towards a sustainable development trajectory. The process of amending the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act has been finalised. The amendments are aimed at improving the ease of doing business in the domestic mining industry, including the streamlining and integration of mining, environmental and water authorization processes, and strengthen its content in order to further enhance and continue creating a conducive environment for investment, growth and job creation.
The Department of Mineral Resource is continuing with public consultation on the 2018 Draft Mining Charter while Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation is finalising its consultation on the charter with all the affected Special Presidential Package departments.
Part of uplifting the socio-economic status of mining communities includes the improving their living and working conditions. To this end, we have established key performance areas with clear timeframes for all relevant government departments to contribute towards achieving sustainable outcomes in mining communities. Integrated human settlements partnerships are delivering decent housing and living conditions for mine workers and those living proximate to mining operations. However, Government calls on mining companies to accelerate this change, and on a larger scale. The exploitation of mine workers must end.
Government and mining companies in Rustenburg, Madibeng region are engaged in private public partnerships in sharing bulk and reticulation infrastructure in order to deliver basic services such as water and sanitation to mine communities. The mining companies involved in this partnership include LONMIN and Samancor (Western Chrome Mines).
The Department of Human Settlements launched a R700 million housing project for the Marikana and to date, 544 housing units have been completed. Substantial progress has also been made in the upgrading of informal settlements in mining communities.
Partnerships in education are equally important to improve the lives of mining communities. LONMIN officially handed over the New Marikana Primary School to the North West Department of Education and Sport Development and the Marikana community in March this year. The school has all the necessary educational facilities and provides a conducive environment for pupils to learn.
Government is committed to health and safety of miners and their families. We are actively working to ensure the reduction in falls of ground accidents annually. We are creating additional awareness about HIV, STIs and TB, and preventing personal over-exposure to silica dust.
The Lodox Scanner is an example of innovation pioneered in the mining industry that has morphed into a machine that has saved lives and radically changed the way doctors in South Africa and across the globe deal with traumatic injury. The Lodox Scanner is a full-body, digital X-ray scanner that is extremely low dose (90% less radiation) and produces diagnostic-quality images equivalent to, or better than, those taken by conventional X-ray machines, in a fraction of the time.
Four one stop centres have been established to offer integrated health and social services to both active and ex-mine workers. The one stop centres are located in labour sending and mining areas such as Carletonville, Mthatha, Kuruman and Burgersfort where patients can be diagnosed and receive treatment. Government encourages mine workers to do regular health checks through the one stop centres.
An out-of-court settlement has been reached on the Silicosis Class Action suit between the gold mining companies (Sibanye Stillwater, Gold Fields, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals and Harmony) and their lawyers as well as lawyers representing the ex-mineworkers and senior executives from the Chamber of Mines. The settlement amounts to R5 billion in compensation for ex-mineworkers.
Government has provided support to ensure that unclaimed pensions and provident funds are paid to ex-mineworkers. Initially the backlog was R9 billion in 2014 but has been reduced considerably to R4.5 billion.
History was made when Government announced a National Minimum Wage in South Africa which is supported by organised business, labour and community. The implementation of a National Minimum Wage supports South Africa’s fight against the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Once implemented, the National Minimum Wage will immediately benefit and uplift the socio-economic status of up to 6.4 million workers in our country.
There is an acknowledgement that much more needs to be done to improve the socio-economic status of mining communities.
Government pledges its full support, in partnership with mining companies and communities, to accelerate change in the living and working conditions of mine workers.