Few outside South Africa remembered on August 12th this year the tenth anniversary of the Massacre of Marikana.
On that day in 2012, police officers at the Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg owned by Lonmin, shot 112 striking miners, killing 34 men. The police had claimed they had to defend themselves, when they had been unable to control the men.
The facts did not confirm this version.
As 250 miners had been in custody during the days that followed, no one was able to speak about the events on August 12th. Thanks to Professor Kate Alexander and her team, who visited Marikana four days later, details began to emerge. The miners had been chased and mowed down in what the “Daily Maverick” described as a “secret killing field!” Prof. Alexander told the media it had not been a “two-way” affair: the miners had been truly murdered.
One miner named Simphiwe, who had escaped the police and had witnessed the unfolding events said he had been one of the strikers, who had gathered at their usual meeting place at a hill. They had been waiting for management to speak to them about their demand for increased wages. The president of their Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had gained nothing after meeting company representatives. Instead, he told the men to leave the “mountain” and warned them the police would kill them. The strikers refused to budge.
This eyewitness, whose report was backed by others, described that a contingent of “some hundred police” arrived and began to fence them in with razor wire. The men began to emerge, only to be surrounded by a hippo (armoured personnel vehicle). The police fired, whereupon the crowd surged forward. When they saw that people had died, they understood the shots fired were not rubber but live bullets! That was when they had begun to run for their lives, only to be followed by the vengeful police, who used teargas to drive the terrified men out of hiding places in the rock – only to pursue and shoot them.
Ten years later the survivors and relatives of victims are still waiting for justice from President Cyril Ramaphosa and the company, of whose board he was a member at the time of the massacre.
It is more than time for the truth about that fateful day to become known – and for the living and the relatives of the dead to receive the justified compensation.