Death of six miners at Burgersfort is a violation of human rights

The bodies of mine workers burnt beyond recognition after their work bus was petrol bombed near Burgersfort, Limpopo. Picture: SAPS

I read with shocked the recent gruesome incident that took place at Driekop village outside Burgersfort, wherein six mine workers were burnt beyond recognition and several others were injured. It is allegedly reported that two unknown suspects got into the bus and set it alight‚ using a highly flammable liquid. They then jumped out‚ leaving behind the bus already engulfed in huge flames.

It is sad that this barbaric act unfolded during a significant time in South Africa, as we celebrate Freedom Month. The attainment of liberation and democracy in the country was through the sacrifices that many activists, stalwarts and freedom fighters such as Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Solomon Mahlangu, OR Tambo, Chris Hani, Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Walter Sisulu, the list goes on and on, endured under the Apartheid regime.

This horrifying incident is a pure element of criminality and the law must take its course.  It is highly outlined in the Constitution on the Bill of Rights, which affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom, ensures that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to life. In regard to the incident the human rights of the mine workers were violated and the manner in which they died is unjustifiable. Those who deviate from the abiding and adhering of the Constitution must face the strict consequences for their actions.

The swift response by the law enforcement agency to arrest the five suspected perpetrators should be commended. The suspects are facing charges of six counts of Murder, attempted Murder and Malicious Damage to Property. The community at large and government officials are extremely confident that the mastermind behind this malicious attack will also be brought to book and justice will be served for those who lost their loved ones.

The mining industry, according to the National Development Plan, is one of the main contributors to the country’s economy and has a potential of creating more jobs. We cannot allow anarchy to hold such a vital economic activity at ransom. The members of the community must at all times follow proper procedures of raising their concerns, such as engaging in community dialogues to resolve issues with the mining companies. Taking away a life does not yield the much needed solution on creating employment, rather makes it more difficult. The public should remain vigilant in safeguarding the human rights as criminality will not be tolerated in our vibrant young democracy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address has initiated the slogan of Thuma Mina (Send Me). Time has come for people of Burgersfort to tune in the rhythm of Thuma Mina by assisting the law enforcement agency in their quest to swiftly crack this case. Any person with any valuable information which will lead to more arrest and possible conviction of the suspects should alert the South African Police Services.   

Moahlodi Chris Maphori is a college graduate and works for GCIS as Assistant Director for Rapid Response and writes in his personal capacity.