PRETORIA– President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Marikana tragedy stands out as the darkest moment in the life of South Africa’s young democracy.

We must be prepared, as government, to acknowledge where we have failed our people. Where we have made mistakes, we will correct them, said the President on Tuesday.

He was replying to the debate on his maiden State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly.

Addressing the role he played in his capacity as a Lonmin Director in the events of that tragic week, the President said: Notwithstanding the findings of the [Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Judge Ian Farlam] on my responsibility for the events that unfolded, I am determined to play whatever role I can play in the process of healing and atonement.

In this, I am guided by the needs and wishes of the families of the 44 workers who lost their lives.

The Farlam Commission was appointed in terms of section 84 (2) (f) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the events in Marikana in 2012 which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people. The injury of more than 70 persons and the arrest of more than 250 people was also probed.

Three broad areas were identified for action: compensation to those injured and the families of those who lost their lives, examining the procedures of public order policing and preparing valid cases for prosecution according to applicable laws.

Government is making progress in continuous engagement with the legal representatives of the victims, especially on the matter of reparations to families who lost their loved ones. This must be concluded in the coming months, said the President.

He said the incident also brought into sharp focus the distress felt by people living in mining communities.

It is for this reason that as government engages with mining companies, unions and communities on the finalisation of the Mining Charter, we need to ensure that these measures receive priority attention.

Alongside Marikana, the Life Esidemeni tragedy stands out as an instance of the most appalling dereliction by the state of its duty to the people.

We welcome the arbitration process led by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and are determined that we should never allow anything like this to happen again in our country, said President Ramaphosa.

On Aug 16, 2012, the South African Police Service (SAPS) opened fire on a crowd of striking mineworkers at Marikana, in the North West Province. The police killed 34 mineworkers, and left 78 seriously injured. Following the open fire assault – 250 of the miners were arrested.

This event culminated after an intense week-long protest in which the miners were demanding a wage increase at the Lonmin platinum mine in a wildcat strike.

Six days earlier (Aug 10), two miners were killed after a large group of the striking miners approached the National Union for Miners (NUM) local office in order to demand support from their union, and were instead met with the firing of live ammunition.

Between Aug 12-14 at least four miners, two police officers and two security guards died in the ensuing violence.

South Africa is world’s third biggest producer of platinum, one of the highest trading resources on the market. Lonmin had 28,000 miners in its employ and has since retrenched thousands of its workers. Families of the miners slain and injured are still seeking reparations.