The massacre at Marikana

I comment on, and interpret,  incidents like the shooting by police of at least 35 strikers at Marikana yesterday.

Even as the gunfire fell silent the price of Lonmin shares fell and the price of platinum spiked in response to supply concerns.

It’s what I do for a living – the people that pay my bills are paying for information or interpretation that might have an impact on the value of things they own, might sell and/or might buy in the future.

What I say to them is a tiny part of the universe of facts and opinions that these individuals and institutions consider when making investment decision to make money and/or prevent losses for the owners of the funds under their care.

But when I had finished my cursory analysis and sent it out – by 05h30 this morning – I busied myself with the difficult business of waking my children and preparing them for the school day.

At some point I shouted across the room for the younger one to switch the channel from Phineas and Ferb to eNews so I could catch the latest from Marikana.

The timing was perfect. We all watched as a line of flack-jacketed, SWAT-style policemen advanced. Suddenly a group of tatty men stormed around an object … a car perhaps … towards the police.

The police opened fire, rifles on full automatic, and the men running towards them simply collapsed in the exploding dust, loose limbed, their ragged bodies sprawling.

A voice, a white Afrikaans voice – but I am not sure why that is significant aside from the fact that no-one I could see amongst the police or the protesters was white – shouted repeatedly: “cease fire, cease fire, cease fire”.

I was horrified. I looked towards my 12 year old son. His mouth was frozen wide open, his face a study of incomprehension.

It was over too quickly for me to do anything about it … I was, frankly, too shocked myself to ameliorate or in some way decode what we had seen.

Sometimes it’s not the facts that count, but how we line them up:

The massacre yesterday has no precedent in the new South Africa.

The precedents are all in the bad old days, when the National Party’s security establishment fired on those taking to the streets and threatening the political elite of the day.

Throughout the platinum sector there is militant and growing opposition to the hegemony of National Union of Mineworkers (Num).

Num has drifted towards representing white-collar workers – the traditional terrain of Solidarity and Uasa.

Num is the backbone of Cosatu’s support for the ANC and that union is also a key pillar of support for Jacob Zuma’s re-election at Mangaung.

It doesn’t matter how ‘true’ the implicit story implicating the political elite in this particular incident is.

It’s clear the workers on the hill were armed. They fired at police. And at a helicopter.

Who can blame the command structure for arming the officers with automatic weapons in this environment?

Can you imagine how scared – and angry – the individual members of the force were as the panga and iron bar carrying strikers rushed towards them?

But those facts are not going to be important over the next few weeks and months.

What’s going to matter is that Num has successfully been portrayed as a sweetheart union, increasingly concerned with white-collar workers, and increasingly comfortably with the benefits that come from being romanced by management.

It is going to matter that Zuma-supporting Num appears to have abandoned the least sophisticated workers – workers that use muti from sangomas to protect themselves from police bullets – to a violent, millennial-style organisation like Amcu.

This is what I Here are a few paragraphs from the conclusion of what I said to my clients this morning:

  • It appears to me that this is the prism through which the public and the press is likely to understand what happened yesterday. In this narrative Jacob Zuma will be portrayed as the villain, presiding over the gradual abandonment by the ANC of the most marginalised and vulnerable citizens. When political formations inevitably emerge to give voice to those disaffected groups, policemen armed for war will be ordered to use all necessary force to defend the support base of the incumbent political elite.
  • Expect anxiety about the breakdown of the political and social mechanisms that have traditionally allowed our society to negotiate the complicated disagreements and clashes of interest with which it is beset.
  • Finally, this incident is likely to be used against Jacob Zuma in the run-up to the political contest at Mangaung. It might not be strictly fair, but the narrative is compelling, and Zuma’s enemies and competitors will make everything they can of his vulnerability here.

There is little I can say of any use to the child with whom I watched the visuals on eNews.

63 thoughts on “The massacre at Marikana

  1. As always you have written a beautiful piece. Thank you for some honest insight without trying to sway judgement or play the blame game! As for your son, as a person who works with words every single day I am sure you will find the right ones to try and explain to his young mind what he saw and what it means.

  2. Nic, I understand your intial disclaimer that you do this for investors. In order to answer your own question that you pose at the end though, it seems to me that you have to think and write about how violence reverberates through society, how it is manifest in worker exploitation and marginalisation that permits, that allsows such atrocious application of violence to take place. Yes, the miners were violent and threatening, but a few pistols and many pangas are no match for well trained police officers with automatic rifles. It is like British imperial soldieres facing off a Zulu impi. If we want to think about the absence of transformation in SA, it seems to me we have to reflect upon how state power is still used against those with so little power of their own to lead decent lives. Such state violence will be meted out to miners, but it will not be targeted at people like you and I – how come?

    1. I can’t disagree with you, Tom … and as it happens I gathered whatever commentary I could find ‘defending’ or ‘explaining’ the heavy-handedness of the police action as an antidote to my visceral outrage at the armed state action against those workers

    1. Thanks Janet and Harald – (and Andrew) agreed, it is as limiting to think of this purely as union rivalry as it is thinking about it purely as a police action. My own objectives were quite limited here, but I have done some work on Amcu elsewhere … and I found Jan delange hugely helpful: http://www.miningmx.com/special_reports/mining-yearbook/mining-yearbook-2012/A-season-of-discontent.htm as I did Greg Marinovitch’s article. My limited objective was to express … distress? … at what had happened and give a muted vent against the political leadership that is setting the tone and context of our political discourse. The writing took about 40 minutes from start to finish – I did in a brief break during a lunch break … and to my shock I have had 4 or 5 times more hits on this post – and a Saturday, which is usually a quiet day – than I have EVER had before on any post on any day. If I had had any idea that there might be this level of interest I might have been more thorough and careful … but I am okay with what I wrote, and there is no specific line of argument or assertion that I would change.

  3. I wish these economists will have read this analysisi before casting a shadow of doubt about foreign investors,If you got grieviences against your employer why don’t you follow the Labour relations act procedure and excercise your rights.This whole event I blame mine management and unions they were suppose to show leadership and reach common ground and prevent bloodshed.I don’t blame the police for their action they habe lost 2 members under the same conditions judging by video evidence these guys were attacking the police not realising that the fire power was too much for them

  4. I would like somebody who has a good record of history to compare this event and the consequences to the mine strikes and violence ninety or so years ago when the then Smuts state used extreme measures. How much of that event energised nationalist forces to focused on their own narrow racial group interests as apposed to more unifying goals for all the people of South Africa.

  5. I think that through the union(s) actions the workers had unrealistic demands. Furthermore, the workers had acted like they were possessed by something. Will you stop advancing maniacs, armed with all sorts of weapons, with bare hands? These workers already killed several other people, including policemen. I feel this time it was self defense.

  6. @Tom. not like british soldiers facing off a spear-wielding lot.We saw this over and over in the KZN wars – the IFP come towards you wielding shields and spears, certain of their immunity to bullets so they not gonna stop. yet the comrade next to you goes down with a head wound from a bullet. they keep coming, retorts of pistol fire continue, so you switch to automatic and move your finger from the guard to the trigger.

    union members need to be taught how to make their union fee-takers accountable. voters need to learn how to make their vote count, and demand accountability. little transformation indeed.

  7. This is total rubbish! A white liberal from upper Woodstock repeats the lies, insinuations and obfuscations of the mainstream corporate media and the ANC government and its spokespeople (not to mention their satraps in the unions allied to them. He has not a clue of any “real developments” but is a parrot of the Others who have spread the myth of a “Third Force” etc.

    So instead of being unnecessarily negative of this poor lamentable fool, let me give an alternative set of links for you, the dear reader to consult instead:

    http://terrybellwrites.com/2012/08/15/no-angels-in-bloody-sa-mine-clashes/

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/pers-a18.shtml

    and

    http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=319707&sn=Detail&pid=71616

    Even John Kane-Berman of the IRR is more on the ball and calls for concrete measures to be put in place.

    Have a Good EID MUBARAK folks (including you Mr Borain).

    Dr Gool

    1. Thanks for your points Dr Selim Gool … oh, sorry no, you didn’t actually make any … however I allowed your “comment” through because unlike you, Terry Bell, Bill Van Auken and John Kane-Berman do actually speak to the issues. So thanks for those links and a good EID MUBARAK to you too Dr Gool.

      1. Dear Nic,

        Oh sorry, that WAS the point!

        I was merely making noise to get the attention of others to arguments I think are more sensible than the mainstrean media rubbish you read otherwise (being an old senile codger and malcontent) myself.

        Thank you for the forum Sir!

        A last word maybe:

        Soon enough people saw no difference between apartheid and supposed “democracy”

        Except that they were allowed once in 5 years to choose their oppressor.

        A dissimilarity between the Sharpville Massacre and the Marikana Massacre could not be found.

        Things fell apart…

        The “blame game” is in full swing and the wagging fingers are pointing in ALL directions – these, in no particular order, are the “main suspects”:

        Riah Phyega

        Nathi Mtlethwa

        Mahommed Seedat

        Roger Philmore

        Ian Falmer

        BUT the ultimate “blame” lies with the CHIEF JZ!

        In any civilized democratic country he would have to step down and a call would be made for the regisnation for the major players in government to be fired on the spot!

        But we are but a “New Democracy” still learning the ropes ….

        And have a nice day.

  8. You are right to point to the failure of NUM to represent the interests of less educated & skilled, lower graded, blue collar workers. NUM is not the only Cosatu union guilty of these errors. But the kind of unionism that emerges to challenge it is scary. It Is low on organization but high on mobilization and infused with criminality. And it rejects the industrial conciliation machinery as a mechanism for resolving disputes. It’s not good.

    1. Agreed hundred percent Jannie … that what I mean by the reference to using muti from sangomas and the ‘millenial-style’ unionism. Sometimes company managements play the game of attempting to divide worker organisations, fragment them so their bargaining power is lessened. If this was ever an intention of management in some of the big platinum mines (and I have absolutely no evidence to suggest it was) Amcu would be their dreams dreams become nightmares.

  9. Nic,

    My only comment is that Police Rifles are Semi Automatic only,they can only fire one shot every time the trigger is squeezed. Fully automatic rifles are exclusive to the military, this is the case in all Western, democratic countries. It may not be relevant to the rest of the article but it needs to be corrected. Too frequently journalists write about firearms as if they are experts in that field. When you know nothing about something rather use “vanilla” language as it seems you have an agenda when you misinform readers, even if you do not have an ulterior motive in the language designed to frighten the readers or demonize a group.

    Kind Regards

    Lance Allam.

    1. Thanks for that Lance .. you are completely correct re my expertise or otherwise with firearms is very limited. In my defence I am convinced that what I saw and heard was automatic rifle fire … unless there were, literally, hundreds of other policeman off camera firing at exactly the same time … which, now that I think of it, is probably the source of my error! Thanks for the correction.

    2. Hi Frank – just watched the footage from various angles again … I am almost certain I am right that some of the fire was automatic – short bursts … while I don’t want to claim authority I have spent the requisite thousands of hours on shooting ranges using automatic weapons myself – as has any white South African male above a certain age. Check some of the links on Youtube … I would be interested in your opinion

  10. “It’s clear the workers on the hill were armed. They fired at police. And at a helicopter”.
    What is the evidence for this? Thank you.

    1. Hi Frank – I was going on reports from journalists I follow that were at the incident … and numerous reported eye-witness accounts (I will try and send you some links). I have to confess that I collated those assertions as quickly as I could – as I mentioned previously – as a counterweight to my visceral anger at the action. I was deliberately trying to marshal “facts” in an attempt to force myself to at least consider that the security officials ‘on the ground’ had to deal with details that I couldn’t guess at … and therefore I had to give them some benefit of the doubt … when what I was actually feeling is what, for example, we all feel about the policemen who shot and killed the 69 at Sharpeville on March 21 1960

      1. Let me know who those journalists are. Anonymous hear-say is not reliable (I am a scientific investigator). The papers that I consult did not mention this, you are the only source. Do we agree that YOU did not see/hear any shooting by the strikers on the helicopter?

      1. I looked at this video. I see a single man firing, not “miners”. This happens while the miners are running away from the police who has been firing at them. I would call this legitimate defense. A second Al Jazeera footage shows and comments that a group of miners is encircled by armored poilice vehicles, and then the police starts shooting, see:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY22CdX_uOk&feature=youtu.be
        What about the firing at a police helicopter that Nic mentioned in his article? Is it hear-say?

    2. Frank – helicopter is a police claim and I can’t verify it … shooting at the police clearly visible in the aljazeera below … they draw a circle around the guy doing it … unmissable … I am in no way suggesting that these minor events justify how police behaved … there is to my mind – and not caught on camera … because these videos show only a group of 15 people being shot … a degree of revenge, panic on behalf of the police … lets wait and see how the various commissions and tasks teams put together what happened .. btw some of your comments have been going to “spam” at my wordpress account … so sorry about that

  11. Nic,

    I feel I must correct what I said and phrase it better.Police are not allowed to use full auto mode.The R1 they used before the R5 was incapable to fire more than one round per trigger depression.The R5 can,but it is strictly against regulations for police to use it that way.Semi auto is always more deliberate and effective.I never picked up the police firing full auto and they looked well trained and I am sure they are.The police seem to have no option to do what they did.
    I feel terribly sorry for the deaths of hose miners.I am sure the politics of union rivalry is a fact her but I have two observations:
    1) How can any company feel good about paying such low wages?
    2) How did Lonmin executive management allow such a situation to occur?

    Surely paying a more equitable wage would have been more beneficial to their shareholders in the long run.

      1. what i see is police using semi-auto, a ceasefire, and from 37-50s while the cops are moving in, there are still pistol shots being fired.

    1. Yeah … I was tempted to go with an ipad, but I couldn’t type on it … or afford one, but that is another matter. I need a keypad that has a mechanical aspect … and ‘clicks’ or I am all over the place. Thanks for the weapons info – I appreciate it. I have deliberately said nothing about management, because I don’t know enough about the specific companies concerned … about what wage levels are possible given the fact that the platinum sector is closing shafts all over the place … but the two issues you raise are unavoidable:
      how can an adult perform the kind of work required by rock-drill operators and similar and earn 4.5k a month?
      Surely, ultimately, the buck stops with management for the industrial relations in the company? They are held to account by shareholders (and regulators) for every other aspect of the company performance … this must apply, to some degree, here as well.

      1. Your analysis is thoughtful, insightful, and helpful. Your style of debate is honest and penetrating. Your writing is elegant and skillfull.

        It’s really very, very good.

  12. Nic, My greatest concern is why we as society wish to defend the police actions under the guise of a threat of war. The group on the hill were behaving in a typical cultural manner. If we, Lomin included, do not wish them to behave in their cultural manner, then rather employ residents of Sandton, Melville, Alexandra or Soweto. No, you will only find your rock-drillers in the Rural areas.
    On 702 David O interviews an EWN reporter, Taurai Maduna, who reports that he was on the hill shortly before the Police media conference to group warning that they had had enough. The miner were happy, singing and sharpening their weapons.
    John Robbie interviews a researcher who motivates what the people believe to be an inflated claim, we all do not hear that. Even if the claim may be inflated, you do not deserve to die for it.
    I saw miners fleeing from something behind, then being massacred.
    We also like to believe that these miners were on the hill for three days, like through the night. I hear wives claiming that their men left home at 07:00 in the morning and did not return.
    If so, why did the Police move in at 16:00, why not wait for them to go home?
    I tend to believe that the Police moved in behind them to prevent them from going home, this is where the barbed-wire was being erected, in order that they can carry out their mandate to disarm and arrest.
    Yes, I may be crazy if I can read all this crap into a scenario where our country would like to see the other side.
    It is just that I am old enough to have taken the police and media side after the Sharpville massacre, then when I meet a few survivors of the Sharpville massacre a few years back, I cry for what I hear.
    Today I cry for the dead and their families, I cry for the country, but more than that I cry for our people that believe the group on the hill were preparing for war.
    I trust that we will hear the truth, unlike Sharpville.

  13. Hi Nic I would just like to thank you for an excellent article – I thought it was beautifully written and I have mailed it to my son who lives in Israel so that he can get some insight into what occurred here. I have also subscribed to you and I am grateful to have ‘stumbled’ onto you. Kindest regards Joanne Brodie

  14. Sunday Morning Friends, Rauland, Telemark, No-Way …

    Morning All!

    To my Christian Brother I hope you pray for ALL our souls today.

    To my Muslim Brothers&Sistes, Happy EID MUBARAK!

    To my Hebrew/Jewish/Non-Zionist Bretheren, I have no words left!

    May the three global major religions one day find common ground!

    The South African State´s Propaganda and Un-Truth Media Wing, the SABC (TV) and its international media supporters are reproducing the STATE´S VERSION of what happened on Thursday the 16th at Rustenberg,in the country’s North West province, killing more than 30, and I am sure the international mouthpieces of the regime in Scandinavia / globally and in the major newspapers will follow suit!

    For some “independent” info. and analysis on what is happening in SA after Thursday´s massace: go to my fb timeline @ https://www.facebook.com/selcool?ref=tn_tnmn

    My take on things?

    IT appears that this “massacre” was planned well in advance – the way they brought in those armed police, the use of razor-wire to pen in the guys and then shunting them like cattle towards the shooters with live ammo: THE MESSAGE? The Dictators of CAPITAL will no longer tolerate the lumpen masses in the demonstratiions in the townships and shantytowns to protest or the low-paid black working masses to strike over higher wages and conditions ….

    THIS was the message from the ANC!

    This was not the action of rogue cops. This massacre was a result of decisions taken at the top of the police structures. The police had promised to respond with force and came armed with live ammunition.

    They behaved no better than the Apartheid police when facing the Sharpeville, 1976 Soweto uprisings and 1980s protests where many of our people were killed.

    The aggressive and violent response to community service delivery protests by the police have their echo and reverberation in this massacre.

    This represents a blood-stain on the New South Africa….

  15. Nic, stick to your guns! you and readers like Johan and Sipho are 100% correct!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can assure you majority of public agree with you. Thanks!
    Maria

    1. This movie looks very much like an organized killing scheme. Who ordered it? The chief of the police, recently appointed, is a former banking executive (Reuters). But a local commander may also heve good relations with the Lonmin management.

    2. This is phantastic, these journalists who make the night into day, and white black:
      “But it’s more than a strike, writes GREG MARINOVICH – it’s becoming a war.On Thursday afternoon, when police tried to move the miners off Wonderkop, there were clashes, apparently including shots fired at the police”.
      http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-08-17-beyond-the-chaos-at-marikana-the-search-for-the-real-issues
      Get it: “APPARENTLY…”. How clever.
      The strike is a war, and during war people are killed, isn’t it? The police was there only to maintain order. These AMCU guys are criminals, they prevent hard-working people doing their job.
      Disinformation travels fast (Peter Ustinov).

      1. If I was a protester I will move away from tear gas – retreating, away from the SAPD. Why will I move closer – to be arrested? The only reason for moving towards the SAPD will be to attack – they have done it with success in the previous days. Those protesters stormed forward (being an attack). If a tear gas cannister falls near me I will only move upwind swiftly, and away, not storming forward.

        Secondly, the footage shows clearly a protester firing a handgun. More clearly, hundreds of hand weapons, the same kind the protesters used to kill 10 people before Thursday 16th. Ten lifeless bodies!

        I do believe that many are to blame for this massacre – police, unions, protesters & mine management all have to share in the “crime”. However, I will put most of the guilt onto the ANC government. They have failed the people of our country. They are failing in educating the uneducated masses. They fail to keep government hospitals in a good state, they fail to provide clean water for all. They fail to deliver electricity to all. They fail in providing food for children at school. They fail in providing all the millions of houses, they fail in providing jobs. They fail in keeping us safe and protected from blood seeking criminals. They fail in utilising our tax money, the people’s money, in a proper way, only filling their own (and their crony’s) pockets!

        The reason why this government has blood on their hands is because of all their promises. Uneducated people don’t understand when promises are not met. It’s better to deliver more than promised, but to not to deliver is a crime!

        In short, the ANC government failed in delivering on all their many empty promises. They fail hopelessly. They are an embarrassment to our people and country.

      2. Johan, no teargas was used. Nor water canons, although they were standing there. That is one argument that the police was preparing a deliberate killing. The protester firing a gun is seen in the crowd who is fleeing away from the bullets of the police, so after the police started the shooting.

      3. Frank, from the footage I got a different understanding. However, I’m sure there is other “unseen” footage (from helicopters), hopefully the inquiry will lay it open. The ANC government created the platform for this massacre, making uneducated people believe that wealth can be demanded and acquired for free. Educated people can demand higher wages. Uneducated people can be replaced (I’m not saying uneducated people can be murdered).

      4. Johan: do I understand you clearly: did you see teargas being used before the shooting started? Please give the link. There has been enough speculation already.
        I don’t know how “uneducated” the rock drillers of Lonmin are. They probably don’t recite Julius Caesar by heart, but they know and do things I would not be capable of: underground drilling of rocks with platinum ore, at least 8 hours a day.

      5. Frank, I have seen footage from 4 different cameras, those of eTV, EWN, Reuters and lastly Al Jazeer. Al Jazeer’s footage shows the guy shooting in the direction of the camera, where the police line was. On the footage from the Reuters camera the shooting of tear gas is very, very clear.

        Go to: http://www.enca.com/videos/enca-sa-seeks-understand-marikana-massacree and look at the video named “NCA | SA Seeks to Understand Marikana Massacre”.

  16. dr selim gool: please be respectful of the fact that a significant number of people contibuting to and reading this thread have no interest whatsoever in you religion or christianity or judaism. you describe them as the three major global religions. to many people, they are the cause of the division and nonsense you appear to be whingeing about. the sooner religion stops, the better our world will be. thanks

    1. case in point: the apartheid regime we all loathe so righteously was justified by the dutch reform church. be smart, doc, and learn the lesson.

  17. One can’t help but feel sorry for Jacob Zuma …i mean those that are rallyin against him will have a field day with this….

  18. Nico, I dont know how to put this, but you have – at least in my humble opinion – a very parochial and proximate view of the issues at play in this Marikana massacre, and more generally of entire scope of the systemic and structural complex that determine life for South Africans. I am remember using this blog for an essay in my first year of politics at uct, for which I needed a neo-liberalist position to balance the more enlightened and progressive references. I thought you were horrible then and now 2 years later it seems your analysis is still poor, completely derelict of any appreciation of, well politics, really. How did you land that cushy job. I mean even cursory readings of Sampie Terrablanche, Pierre de Vos, Cosmos Desmond, John Pilger should enlarge ones perspective. Or in the least accessorize one with a more sophisticated epistemic hook upon which to hang new knowledges and developments. I am sorry, but I must agree with Dr Gool here. Please read his above-mentioned references and maybe throw in De Vos’ blog for good measure. You will find it at: http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/some-thoughts-on-the-marikana-massacre/#comment-71021

    1. Thanks, Themba, for the link to Prof de Vos’s blog. I always find his entries interesting and thought-provoking.
      Did you perhaps read the entry you linked to, to the end? The second sentence of the third-last paragraph reads “As Nic Borain has pointed out in a must read analysis, the events …….”

      Also, do you have the ISBN number for Prof Sampie Terreblanche’s recently released book referred to in the same entry? I have been unable to find it on local or international websites and would like to read it. Thanks.

    2. @Themba, perhaps I can speculate as to how Mr Boraine got his ‘cushy job’ for you. See, when people have money to invest they get serious about information. They look for real analysis. When those selfish investors choose, they look very carefully for certain qualities, because they wish to perpetuate their wealth! So you can understand why Dr Gool makes them want to weep, why Mr Pilger makes them laugh, and why you make them smile a wry smile, as they sign Mr Boraines check. I of course have no knowledge of this, it just seems obvious to me.

  19. Morning Folks! O.K. no “sermons”, no demonization of religion and no religious quips, whatever be thy faith!

    From a more serious pt. of view though, from a labour historian, whom I respect greatly, has this to say:

    “The troubles at the mine have their root in the ongoing disintegration of the National Union of Mineworkers”, says Charles Van Onselen, a leading labour historian.

    “The NUM is the biggest union and its leaders provide the labour federation, Cosatu, the Communist Party and the African National Congress with many of their leaders.

    So this is the entire spinal column of the ANC alliance which is fragmenting.

    The police have been quite routinely tolerant of violence – as during the xenophobic riots when over 60 were killed – but this time they drewa line in the sand because that is what the NUM and the ANC wanted. You’ll note the complete absence of modern police methods of riot control… The fact that the locals don’t want the mine jobs mean the mines depend on migrant workers”, says Van Onselen.

    “… that means mining hostels, which greatly reinforce thesystem of age cohorts and impi-like tribal behaviour. It’s also very striking that they were demanding an increase of over 300% – a clearly millenarian demand.

    And there were a lot of sangomas (witchdoctors) up there on that hill for the last few days and you can see on film that many of the workers were wearing muti (magic charms) of one kind or another. Typically, the idea behind such muti is that it makes you invincible against your enemies…”
    @ http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page72308?oid=320136&sn=Marketingweb+detail&pid=90389

    From my own research (c. 1973-82) on black labour on the Witwatersrand mines, I can concur. The miners were not local, they spoke Xhosa (Swazi?) in a region dominated by Vendas (?) etc … there were the usual tensions between “hostel-dwellers” and the locals as many come from Mocambique and Transkei etc – this breeds resentment and conflict. It was the same in the Soweto Students´ uprising in 1976.

    But even more interesting is the comment of the “spinal column of the ANC (Alliance) fragmenting”, as their leadership(s) turn to assassinations, killing of opponents and turf-wars … Julius Malema is but the media-focus tip-of-the-iceberg of such overt thuggery – for more details see:

    Paul Trewhela´s articles, as in: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71619?oid=310349&sn=Detail&pid=71619

    Do not forget the demos and open meetings in Johannesberg and Cape Town planned for this week: viz

    CIVIL SOCIETY TO LAUNCH ITS OWN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE MARIKANA MASSACRE

    Press Release: Sunday 19 August 2012, released by: Justice Now for the Marikana Strikers and Communities – ad hoc support group ….. see facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/events/136948483113362/permalink/137547489720128/

    A press briefing is planned for Tuesday 21 August.

    Further details to follow.

    The Marikana Massacre – Never Again!

    Issued by Justice Now For Marikana Strikers ad group Many CBO, CSOs, Human Rights and Social Justice Groupings including the Benchmarks Foundations have pledged their support for this meeting and the initiative it seeks to launch.

    Contact Numbers of spokespersons

    Samantha Hargreaves 083 384 0088, Jayshree Pather 082 413 3652 , Rehad Desai 083 997 9204
    Email: (samyhargreaves@gmail.com) rehad@icon.co.za Peter Alexander (palexander@uj.ac.za)

    Thank You!

  20. Morning All!

    Hope you had a good rest last night and did not watch that awful footage from Marikana over and over again (I know I did for a while but …)

    Now, here come the social scientists, the experts with their superior knowledge and international observers with their bits and pieces of “the truth” – so I thought I would share some of these with you:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/20/behind-the-south-africa-mineworkers-strike/

    AUGUST 20, 2012

    The Problem of Dual Unionism: Behind the South Africa Mineworkers Strike

    by JEAN DAMU

    The recent South African mineworkers massacre in which scores were shot and killed had its origins in long disgraced trade union organizing tactics but that in no way absolves the police and mine owners from being held in accountable.

    There is blood and blame enough to cover both sides of the barricades, enough in fact that the regional leadership of the immensely influential South African Communist Party has called for the arrest of the leaders of the breakaway mine workers union which they assert foment violence wherever they appear.

    Before addressing the issues confronting the unions it should be made clear that the police are going to have a very difficult time convincing anyone they shot in self-defense.

    There are numerous videos showing police forces standing in front of their vehicles, not behind them for protection, as they fired into crowds of protesting miners.

    That simple fact alone belies police protests of innocence….

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/20/striking-south-african-miners-lonmin

    Striking South African miners defy Lonmin ultimatum

    “Company gives workers extra day to return after three-quarters refuse to return to mine where 44 were killed by police last week …

    (most interesting is this bit of jubilation for shareholders)

    … Lonmin’s shares, which have fallen by more than a third so far this year, dropped by 4.5% to 610p on Monday. The company had been struggling before the strikes due to a collapse in the platinum price. Ironically, the violence has lead to 5.3% spike in the price to $1,470 an ounce in the past week – the biggest weekly gain since January….”

    and some insider information that did not appear in the national press:

    http://septembernationalimbizo.org/bloody-marikana-what-the-media-didnt-tell-you/

    “What is clear from what we are told is that this was an ambush.

    The video material in mainstream media showing workers charging at the police was in fact workers running away from bullets being hurled from behind.

    Why would workers, armed with knobknorries charge at armed police?

    The workers were completely surrounded and what we’ve been seeing in the media is only half the story. There was clearly a mission: shoot to kill, thus the deployment of the army…”

    Finally: The price of platinum today is US$1,473.10 per ounce.
    That’s around R12 256 per ounce.

    The miners that were shot were striking because they earn just R4000 per month (equivalent to 1/3 ounce platinum).

    Lonmin (the company they work for) made around R1,4bn profit last year after tax, and its CEO made R15,3milion.

    But what still embitters them is their understanding that they would have to be reincarnated many times over to earn what the CEO of Lonmin did in one single year.

    Comparing their salary of R48 000 per annum with Ian Farmer’s (2011) earnings of R20, 358, 620 amounts to an, approximately, 424 years discrepancy.

    Taking a recent estimate of average male life expectancy in South Africa (49.81) and deducting just 18 childhood years from that would mean even if they worked every day of their adult life – they would have to do so over 13 unlucky lifetimes!

    Thank you, and have a good day!

  21. Morning All!

    After reading this article in the Daily Maverik this morning, I fear that we may never know the “truth” of what really happened:

    “The social research professor, Peter Alexander, said media coverage of the event gave scant, if any, voice to the workers present at the killing field.

    “The journalists interacted with the politicians, the police and sometimes with AMCU (the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union) or NUM (the National Union of Mineworkers). But there are hardly any accounts of events from people who were on the mountain when the massacre occurred,” Alexander told Daily Maverick.

    “By Monday, the place had been cleaned so we couldn’t find rubber bullets, canisters, live ammunition shells and that sort of thing. However, you could see where the arc of a water canon had been, because of the dye.

    The most important thing is the information we got from people who were walking past. They directed us to an area behind the ‘mountain’ where the miners gathered to a place we now call ‘killing koppie’.

    We went to ‘killing koppie’, and there you could see very clear evidence of large numbers of people who had been killed.”

    Alexander has the remnants of a pair of bloodied trousers from the ‘killing koppie’. Daily Maverick journalist Khadija Patel got a close up view of this evidence, and said just the seat of the pants and part of the trouser remains. “It looks like those pants were torn off the person they were on.

    What’s evident is that they are spattered in blood. It was very shocking to see them.”

    Patel viewed the pants at a public protest where Alexander addressed crowds on Wednesday.

    Alexander said the most obvious and reliable evidence for his assertion of there being more than one killing site, were police markings that indicate where the SAPS had removed corpses.

    “These markers are letters. We found markers using the letters up to ‘J’. On the grass it is more difficult to see where the markings may have been put by police, but those on the rocks you can be seen clearly. You can see that people were killed in that area, and that’s certainly what the workers were telling us.”

    Media coverage of the Marikana shootings showed one killing point close to a gap in the razor wire that was rolled out by the SAPS to contain strikers.

    Television footage of the protest area shows most of the action from this vantage point. Tear gas is fired.

    One sees miners charging towards the police.

    Then there’s the volley of police fire. As dust clears one sees a number of corpses and injured bodies, but nowhere near the police figure for the dead which is set at 34.

    Alexander said there’s another view that was never shown by the media, a scene he has pieced together using evidence and investigation at the site and from interviews with miners.

    In this version, some of the miners run toward the razor wire, but the bulk of the protesters run in the opposite direction to ‘killing koppie’ where mounted police, Nyalas and armed forces allegedly lie in wait.

    The blood on ‘killing koppie’, the corroborating miner’s stories and what’s left of the pants he found there tell the story that miners died here too….”

    see @ http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-08-23-marikana-what-really-happened-we-may-never-know

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