Speech: Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, on the Marikana Tragedy


Address by Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, MP on the occasion of the National Assembly Debate on the Marikana Tragedy, National Assembly, Parliament

Speaker of the National Assembly;

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly;

Ministers and Deputy Ministers present;

Honourable Members;

Members of the Media;

Comrades and Friends;

Today, we have convened this esteemed House to mourn the tragic events of Thursday, 16 August 2012.

Our country has been in mourning because of the incidents that took place in Marikana, Rustenburg, in the North West province.

In remembering this day, should teach us, as Members of this House and as a nation as a whole to work double hard to prevent the repeat of such events. It is our responsibility both as individuals and as a nation to ensure that it does not happen again.

Thursday’s event is tragic because, many people lost their lives in a manner that could have been avoided if all of us had adhered to the noble principles of our Constitution.

As government and as fellow citizens, we offer our sincere condolences to all families who have lost their loved ones both on Thursday and in the days preceding Thursday’s events.

Our thoughts are also with those who are recovering in various hospitals and clinics.

Our thoughts are also with our police officers who are at times called upon to intervene in difficult situations.

Painful moments like these force us to trace our steps back and recall the founding principles of our democratic order. The Constitution of the Republic as adopted in 1996 is our lodestar in the execution of our duties.

The Constitution guarantees rights and imposes responsibilities on the citizens of the Republic.

Section 17 of the Constitution assures the citizens of the Republic the right to “peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and present petition.”

Section 205 of the Constitution speaks specifically to the South African Police Service and enjoins the members of the service to the following; to:
· Prevent, combat and investigate crime.
· Maintain public order.
· Protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property.
· Uphold and enforce the law.

We have quoted from the Constitution, so that we can remind the Honourable Members of this august House and the public in general, about the philosophical underpinning of our conduct.

The police as part of our security services are always and at all material times guided by the Constitution of the Republic.

The events of Thursday, 16 August 2012, were not sudden eruption but a culmination of events that were building over months and months.

The South African Police Service is saddened by the events that unfolded on that fateful day. The police did all in their power to avert such a situation.

The loss of life among workers and members of our police service is tragic and regrettable.

Addressing the media on Friday evening, President Jacob Zuma said the following words: “These events are not what we want to see or want to become accustomed to, in a democracy that is bound by the rule of law, and where we are creating a better life for all our people.

We do not expect such incidents, particularly in a country where there is a high level of organization within the labour movement. We have trade unions with many years of experience in organizing workers, within the framework of the labour laws of the country.”

The President has announced that he will be appointing a Judicial Commission of Inquiry and has also appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee that is focusing on humanitarian aspects of the Marikana tragedy.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee met yesterday, in elaborating on the mandate given by President Zuma; and decided upon a number of critical interventions as part of government’s contribution to assist the families of those who lost their loved ones, as well as those injured and recuperating in hospitals.

Noting that President Zuma had already visited those injured in hospitals, the Inter-Ministerial Committee decided upon the following measures for immediate implementation:
· To visit the mortuary and give support to bereaved families
· To meet various stakeholders – traditional leaders, trade unions, mine management, religious leaders and community leaders.
· During the interaction with the mine management, the Committee urged the management to act with restrain during this period of mourning.

In addition, the Committee pledged that government will provide the affected communities with the following:
i. State pathology to work with provincial authorities in finalizing post-mortem processes.
ii. A contingency of health personnel comprising of, military, municipal, provincial, and national have been mobilized to provide any emergency services required during this period and beyond.
iii. Identification of the remaining six deceased persons.
iv. Provision of death certificates through dedicated counters established in the local Rustenburg Home Affairs offices to all those affected families including the issuance of enabling documents to help in the facilitation of movement of deceased persons through various ports of entry with particular reference to foreign nationals,
v. To provide psycho-social support to members of the bereaved families and the injured through a dedicated team of social workers who will be stationed in the area while providing alternative care for orphaned children.
vi. Facilitate the payment of necessary benefits to affected families.
vii. To provide disaster management services in all major gatherings related to this tragedy.
viii. Co-ordinate with other provinces from which some of the deceased originate.

Government Ministries and Departments are on the ground, assisting families in identifying the deceased, organizing funerals, relief for those in distress and counseling for the families.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee will brief the public on the daily basis around the unfolding events relating to this tragedy.

Memorial services will be organized throughout the country on Thursday, 23 August led by religious community of our country.

The main service that will take place in Marikana will be organized by government working together with the religious community.

As we indicated above, the Constitution of the Republic guarantees us the right to strike, to protest in a peaceful orderly manner to express our dissatisfaction with anything. While all South Africans enjoy these rights, rights always come with responsibilities.

However, as the esteemed President of the Republic, President Zuma has said when addressing the media on Friday evening: “We assure the South African people in particular, that we remain fully committed to ensuring that this country remains a peaceful, stable, productive and thriving nation, that is focused on improving the quality of life of all, especially the poor and the working class.”

I further re-iterate the call on leaders of all sectors of our society including religious, business, labour, traditional leaders, civic, leaders of political parties, women and youth to join the government in its efforts to unite the people in prayer and thoughts around this national tragedy and beyond.

We reiterate our firm belief that only working together can we help the nation in the process of healing.

I thank you.