The Farlam Commission is part of the capitalist instruments of violence against the masses
The Farlam Commission lists as a central theme:
‘The Commission is of the view that the first „game changer‟ was another
decision by the strikers, to enforce the unprotected strike by violence and
In other words, they argue that the strikers were violent and thus the heavy militarisation of the police was justified. If the strikers were really intent on killing then there would have been many deaths. The vast majority of the 44 deaths were strikers, killed by the state. 34 workers were gunned down on by the state on the 16th Aug; 2 workers were gunned down by NUM officials on the 11th Aug and a further 2 workers were gunned down by the police on the 13th August.
Despite the claims that strikers were heavily armed on the 16th Aug, not a single police suffered even a scratch. No bullet from any weapon of the strikers was found. The workers were unarmed.
The Commission also blames the workers for refusing to disarm. But the workers had no guns. The only ones who had guns were the police. The workers had sticks and spears. The police could easily have allowed the strikers to leave but their insistence on them putting down the only defensive weapons they had was a pretext for the state to carry out its plan of massacre.
The Commission justified the massacre:
‘It was their determination to hold on to their weapons and to continue
congregating on the koppie which set in motion the series of events which
culminated in the tragedy of 16 August.’ (p513)
Not a single word about the structural violence of the massive theft by the mines that has caused the death of many hundreds of thousands, if not millions in Southern Africa through starvation and preventable diseases; not a word of the over million of silicosis victims that the mines still refuse to pay compensation for; not a word of the million workers who had become permanently disabled on the mines and the thousands who have died underground. The commission does not see the desperation of the mineworkers revolting against the system of cheap labour. The Commission is itself an instrument of maintaining the system of cheap labour.
The Commission exposes that initially there was one plan revealed by the police but as the evidence unfolded it became clear that the police lied about the plan. There was another plan, namely to push for a massacre. This was done through a plan to insist on ‘disarming’ when the police knew that the strikers would not do so. This would create a pretext for the massacre. Farlam puts the implementation of the so-called second plan down to ‘inexperience’ as the experienced POP (riot police) were supposedly not part of the planning. This covers up that the massacre could not have taken place without the guidance and leadership of the experienced apartheid police in the ranks of the state. This is due to botched operation on the 13th Aug, where the ANC leaders bungled the attack on the strikers, resulting in 2 TRT members being killed when strikers resisted the attack. The ANC leaders proved too inexperienced and leadership of the massacre was handed over to apartheid operatives. The Farlam Commission fails to question why there was one plan presented and later it became clear there were 2 plans and in fact the real plan was to massacre the strikers to protect the cheap labour system that the mines and the economy was based on. Why the police lied is not questioned by Farlam. It is just seen as incompetence. Farlam did not question the absence of hard copies of the final plan. This absence of hard copies was deliberate, to cover the tracks of the perpetrators of the massacre.
Farlam does not question why the police lied and the political heads of the police and government gave the instruction for a cover up. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the massacre was planned and approved by the ANC govt. Farlam makes a scapegoat of the National Police Commissioner and the regional head:
‘The leadership of the police, on the highest level, appears to have taken the
decision not to give the true version of how it came about that the „tactical
option‟ was implemented on the afternoon of 16 August and to conceal the
fact that the plan to be implemented was hastily put together without POP
inputs or evaluation. In order to give effect to this, the decision at the NMF
was not disclosed to the Commission. An inaccurate set of minutes for the
06h30 meeting was prepared and a number of SAPS witnesses testified
before the Commission in support of the incorrect version. There is at least
a prima facie case that the National Commissioner and the Provincial
Commissioner for the North West Province, who knew the true facts’
Farlam merely recommends action for misconduct and not looking at the reasons for the misconduct. Farlam protects the state and those who gave the orders for the massacre.
Farlam ends his report with a quote from the very police who committed the massacre, namely that those who committed illegal acts from 9-16th Aug 2012 must be prosecuted. He means the workers must be dealt with while the police must merely be investigated.
Farlam even goes as far as to say that the police who massacred Mambush and others at scene 1 cannot be charged with murder, only attempted murder.
Farlam condemns the strikers ‘in the strongest possible terms’ for their actions, for being ‘armed’ , for ‘premeditated attacks on the 12th and 14th Aug but makes no such call against the police. The TRT lost 2 members on the 13th Aug. Farlam acknowledged that all the bullets shot at scene 1 was from the TRT and one member of the POP. Yet he ignores the obvious conclusion that the TRT carried out a revenge attack on the workers.
Farlam admits that the company’s failure to address low wages and their only building 3 out of 5500 house as per the agreed Social Plan that went along with their mineral rights, were contributing factors to the anger of workers. Yet he does not make any recommendation against the company. He does not even order the withdrawal of their mineral rights. In other words, the migrant labour system is being entrenched by Farlam.
At scene 2, it was a clear case of murder by the police units, the POP, K9, TRT and NIU, yet this was only recommended for investigation. All the police involved in the massacre are still active members in the armed forces. The only people facing charges are still the 270 survivors of the massacre, who are rather bizarrely facing charges of violence!
Farlam recommends that the Executive should have no operational decision making powers in suppressing workers. This is an admission that the ANC govt gave the order for the massacre. Farlam says that in future the police will decide when to kill and how many. This hands over control of future massacres more directly to police commanders who regularly have join exercises with the CIA and FBI. Imperialism will have a greater hand in future massacres.
Farlam recommends that the police learn from so-called best international practice in revising their training to handle large groups of angry crowds. Did he mean looking at Syria, Yemen, Israel, Afghanistan?
Farlam admits that the entire operation on the 16th Aug 2012 was illegal but left it open to broad and vague investigation. This is despite the police having failed to justify why they fired even a single shot.
Farlam does not even make any finding against the complicity of the state and Lonmin and Anglo American in the massacre, despite the clear evidence presented. To Farlam, the workers were violent and the state and capital were justified in killing the strikers. The major difference is that, according to Farlam, the police should have used pistols and not machine guns to shoot them down. The absence of the use of minimum force shows that the plan of the ANC govt, in conjunction with the monopoly capitalists was to massacre the strikers.
The ANC government is incapable of meeting the most basic democratic demands of the masses; they help maintain the migrant labour system and the cheap labour exploitation that capitalism has been based on for the past 150 years.
The imperialists rule SA through the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance.
There is no possibility of Socialism in one country. The struggle against big capital implies that the working class in SA has to link up with the working class in the imperialist centres as well as the other regions being plundered by imperialism around the globe.
It is time for the Cosatu workers to dump the alliance with the ANC and SACP. It is time for a new workers’ party. A revolutionary, internationalist party is needed to fight to end the cheap labour system that stretches across Africa.
October 2015 to 12.8.2017 and amended 15.8.2017
Workers International Vanguard League/Party