In preparation for a civil society inquiry into the Marikana massacre, undertake consultation with civil society, including trade unions, to develop consensus on the inquiry’s nature, form and process.

On 16 August 2012 the South African police opened fire with live ammunition on thousands of striking platinum miners at Lonmin plc’s Marikana mine in South Africa. One hundred and twelve miners were shot and of those 34 died. This event was shockingly reminiscent of the apartheid era – Sharpeville in 1960 and Soweto in 1976 where black people were shot for engaging in protest. Unfortunately the official Marikana Commission of Inquiry (the Farlam Commission) which was set up to investigate these killings largely absolved the police, the state, and Lonmin of any responsibility for this event. To date the families of the miners killed at Marikana have still not received compensation. There is a now a wide consensus across civil society in South Africa that the Marikana Commission of Inquiry failed to deliver recommendations that served the victims of the massacre or indeed South Africa’s democracy. This growing counter narrative is prevalent across the political spectrum, the media and sections of civil society. There is now, however, a need to translate this counter-narrative into action.


Toward this end the Human Rights Media Trust/Marikana Support Campaign, following discussion with its numerous affiliates, is proposing an independent civil society inquiry. This civil society inquiry, which will be led by respected African academics and legal practitioners, will re-examine the evidence presented to the Farlam Commission and develop an alternative report and set of recommendations. It is hoped that this inquiry will take place in the first quarter of 2016. However, defining and clarifying the nature, form and process of this proposed inquiry requires further consultation within civil society (including trade unions and community organisations) to ensure that there is broad-based agreement and consensus.


This proposal seeks funding for the first phase of the project, including that process of consultation. The consultation process will involve two facilitated workshops with 30 participants each (i.e. 60 participants in total).


Marikana was a seminal event in post-apartheid South Africa. What took place shook the nation to its core. Brutality of this kind was something that many believed had been left behind. These killings, however, were part of a growing trend of violence by the state toward non-violent protest and dissent in South Africa. Since 2004 at least 50 protestors have been killed by police in South Africa – excluding those killed at Marikana. These killings have taken place in the context of legitimate service delivery protests, which in many instances the state has labelled as attempts by political factions to destabilise the government. Such characterisation of protest, however, serves to de-legitimise the very real grievances of working class people, and undermines their right to free expression and legitimate protest and dissent.