Issued by: Marikana – Women Unite!

27 September 2012

The women of Marikana condemn in the strongest possible terms the attempts by officials in the Madibeng and Rustenburg municipalities to prevent them from exercising their constitutional right to assembly and freedom of expression.

Today, a delegation of women from the Women’s Forum,who are organising a march against police violence in Marikana on Saturday 29 September, met with public safety officials, the traffic police, and representatives from the Marikana police station and North-West SAPS to work out the route and other details.

After a three-hour delay to the start of the meeting, the women were informed that their march had been banned. This is the second time in just over one week that the women of Marikana, who have followed all legal requirements of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, have been deprived of their right to assemble. The first banning order was given verbally and via sms, contrary to what the law requires, on Thursday 20 September. This led to the postponement of a planned march on Saturday 22 September. The women of Marikana have followed all legal procedures outlined in terms of the Act, and have demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the authorities, but have confronted nothing less than bureaucratic confusion, obstruction and unlawful conduct by officials of the two municipalities. This conduct violates the letter and spirit of the Act, which requires the authorities to facilitate the right to protest, rather than place bureaucratic obstacles in its way.

The Rustenburg local municipality has put in writing the grounds on which the march is denied – these include that the “purpose of the march does not meet the requirements of the Gatherings Act” and that the “application was not done within seven days”, which is patently untrue as is evident from the correspondence between the conveners and the Municipality. Two other reasons given are similarly spurious and do not constitute sufficient grounds to deprive the women of their constitutional rights. It should be noted that the Act does not permit the authorities to regulate protests on the basis of their purpose: to do so would allow them to pick and choose which marches to allow and which to disallow based on the content of the march, which could well lead to censorship of marches that are critical of the government or the ruling party.

The women have instructed their attorneys, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, to launch an urgent review application in the High Court to overturn this unlawful decision.

We demand our rights to assemble and protest peacefully!

The women of Marikana are marching because they want to see justice done for the death of their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers at the hands of the police. They want justice for the death of Paulina Masuthlo, who died on the 19th September, a few days after she was shot with rubber bullets by the police. The women want to see justice for the shooting of three other women with rubber bullets on Saturday 15th September.

People’s homes, the streets they walk on, the schools in which children learn, and the shops residents frequent are no longer safe. And they are not safe because of the police. The police are supposed to safeguard and protect; but in Marikana they kill and injure and create fear.

And this is why the women want to march on the police. They have had enough of the violence, and the fear and the criminality of the police. They want justice done. And they want to restore their community and their homes to places of safety. This can only happen when the police fully withdraw from Marikana, and when the police are held to account for their violent and unlawful actions.

Some of the women who will participate in the march are the widows of the mineworkers who were killed. It is part of their need to grieve and remember.

Today, immediately following the denial of the women’s march, the Marikana Support Campaign was also denied the right to picket outside the Civic Centre in Rustenburg on the 2nd October, the day the Marikana Judicial Commission starts its work. No reasons were given for this denial. They are joined with the women of Marikana in bringing an urgent High Court application to review the banning order. And the Right2Know Campaign marches tomorrow despite police non-compliance with the Gatherings Act. These developments signal to us the shutting down of democratic space.

The women of Marikana feel very strongly that if the authorities break the law and block this march, they will march on Saturday in peaceful defiance, claiming their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.


For more comment, please contact:

In Marikana: Thumeka (084) 714 0111

In Johannesburg: Sipho (071) 635 8668 or Samantha (083) 384-0088
Marikana Women for Justice presser 27 Sept 2012 Final