OPINION: Where to next for the Marikana report?
President Jacob Zuma has finally committed to releasing the Farlam commission of inquiry's report into the Marikana killings by the end of June. In the past three weeks Eyewitness News has spoken to several prominent figures, including human rights lawyer George Bizos, Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa and EFF leader Julius Malema about the release of the report.
They were all involved in the Marikana commission, and Malema in particular was seen supporting the miners back in 2012 at the Lonmin platinum mine in the North West Province. Their calls for Zuma to release the report into the public domain may have put some pressure on the president to announce a date. To me however, it seems more likely that the proposed court action by the wounded and arrested miners may have had a stronger impact.
The miners called on Zuma to respond to their request by 2pm on Sunday afternoon. They wanted him to commit to releasing the report within 48 hours. Zuma did not meet the deadline, and only announced his intention on Tuesday to release the report by the end of next month.
According to the lawyers representing the miners, many feel that they have been treated with contempt. At this stage they still have to indicate whether or not they want to continue with legal action against the president to compel him to release the report before the end of June.
Some of the concerns they raised involved civil claims that they need to process as soon as possible and the retirement of North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.
Mbombo will retire at the end of May, and according to her office, this is due to her age and has nothing to do with the Marikana report. We all, however, remember Mbombo's words on 16 August 2012: "We have deployed these various units, in order to make sure that today … we end this violence."
The miners don't want anyone to be let off the hook, especially not Mbombo who will no longer be a part of the police service when the Marikana report is released.
They have also called for National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega to be held accountable and have raised concerns about an alleged meeting she had with Zuma about being offered another position. The Presidency has denied this in the strongest terms, but I don't blame the miners for being concerned about the possibility of Phiyega being redeployed. The rumours have been circulating for weeks, and as head of the SAPS, now and during 2012, many believe she must take responsibility for the police's conduct on that fateful day.
When I visited Marikana last month, for the umpteenth time, miners and community members said they were hoping the inquiry's report recommend that Phiyega be prosecuted. "She must just go to jail," said one miner.
The families of the victims are also not completely satisfied by Zuma's commitment to release the report. They want it to be made public on 1 June and no later. They will also ask retired Judge Ian Farlam, who headed the commission, to release the report if Zuma does not agree to their request.
The violence, the deadly shooting and the 44 deaths happened almost three years ago. It took the commission of inquiry more than 300 days to listen to testimony from 50 witnesses. It's time the report is made public. If Zuma has indeed taken almost two months to "apply his mind" to the serious recommendations and takes action, I will feel better about this delay.
But ultimately, all those who watched the horrific scenes on their television screens, those who lost their loved ones, and the journalists who watched and reported from the frontlines, want answers. We want answers and we want action to be taken. Now.
Gia Nicolaides is an Eyewitness News reporter and rose to prominence with her coverage of the Marikana tragedy in 2012 for which she won numerous awards. Nicolaides was based in the North West Province for nine months to keep track of the story and has written a book on her Marikana journey. Follow her on Twitter: @GiaNicolaides