Marikana Miners: A Bloody Tale of Corruption

November 14, 2012 2:00 pm

What really happened on the 16th August at Lonmin mines?  Almost three months on, this case- originally labelled tragic but unavoidable- has seen more and more evidence of a blatant cover-up being brought to the surface.

The story starts with a group of miners at Lonmin mines in Marikana, South Africa, striking for a pay rise. On the 10th August, 3000 miners walked out as part of a “wildcat strike”-meaning a strike that hasn’t received authorisation by the unions. A day later, two people had already been killed. The next three days, nine more. Five days after that, the death toll had reached 34.

The 10th August shootings are rather vague and it is unknown who fired on whom as the victims were made up of police, union officials and miners alike. What is known however, is it all occurred against the backdrop of disunity and chaos among two rival unions. Then, on the 16th August the police opened fire on the miners, killing 34 and injuring more.

The killings shook the world, being the bloodiest case of police brutality against civilians since the end of apartheid. And the response from the South African government? It was dubbed an “act of self-defence”, justified by the fact that the miners were carrying weapons, a hand gun was said to have been fired and two police officers were killed. As a result of the latter, 270 of the miners were charged with murder, but after global outrage the charges were dropped. The miners later received their pay rise, a hollow victory that came at a very high price.

However, it has recently come to light that weapons may have been planted on the miners. One piece of photographic evidence shows two photos of the same victim, the first with no weapons visible and one taken later in the day that shows a machete near the victim’s hand. This comes alongside some new evidence by journalist Greg Marinovich that suggests the miners were shot at a second site, with bullet wound in their backs suggesting an execution-style shooting. It is also suggested that some of those at the second site were hiding when they were killed. One had twelve bullet wounds, unlike the vast majority that had one or two.

Three months after the murders and only now is there serious suggestions that the police may have perverted the course of justice. It will take four more months before the investigation will be complete. It appears that this evidence is not enough to damn them yet. Not all the photos, videos or reports from witnesses-who also report being tortured by the police-are enough to make these murderers feel remorse. Instead, they are made out to have been honorably defending themselves against an out-of-control group of miners.

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