The South African government has set aside $92 million dollars to compensate victims of the widely publicized Marikana mine massacre. In 2012, police gunned down 34 miners during a mine workers’ strike.
On the August 16, 2012, hundreds of mine workers who had been on strike gathered on a small hill outside the Lonmin platinum mine singing and dancing. As they came down the hill, the police warned them to stop. When they did not stop, police opened fire at them with live ammunition killing 34 miners and wounding 78.
Four years later, after a series of legal battles, Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko said that the government is ready to compensate the victims of the massacre. The 1.17 billion rand ($92 million, 85.7 euros) that the government is offering will cover 652 claims made by families who lost relatives, miners who were injured and those who were unlawfully arrested.
"The 1.17 billion rand presented here is an amount linked to a certain number of individuals' loss of support, injuries and of course fatalities," Nhleko told lawmakers.
A miner celebrating the deal that ended the strike with the Lonmin mine just weeks after the massacre
However, he told members of Parliament that payment will only be made when compensation agreements have been concluded with the victims.
"You know legal matters they tend to take a life of their own. You could easily end up with a situation where, from a project management point of view, it's no longer a week," he said.
The government's readiness to pay has been welcomed by many. Phathu Phiri, one of the miners who was on the hill that fateful day, said that he was happy with the announced compensation - but angry that the police officers who pulled their triggers still have not been arrested.
"They must pay for what they did. They must be charged because they have already killed," he said.
Another miner, Vuyo Maqanda, said that mere financial compensation is not enough, especially for those who lost their loved ones.
"No one will replace those people in this country. They are gone. Even if they pay a million rand for each, we are no longer with them," he said.
An official inquiry established by President Jacob Zuma put much of the blame for the massacre on police tactics used to disperse the strikers. The offer has reportedly been accepted in principle by the victims and their families.