History August 16, 2018 at 09:00 am

We remember the Marikana Massacre, the unpunished murder of 34 black South African mine workers in 2012

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson | Staff Writer

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson August 16, 2018 at 09:00 am

August 16, 2018 at 09:00 am | History


Exactly six years ago, on this day, Thursday, August 16, 2012, 34 mineworkers in Marikana, South Africa were brutally shot dead by police officers. The killings also saw the death of two police officers and four security guards. The deadly massacre has since gone down in history as the most destructive utilisation of the South African Police Force against civilian workers since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre.

According to IOL news, as many as 78 others were wounded on that fateful day and in the aftermath, some 275 locals were arrested and brought before the courts.

Coincidentally, the massacre occurred on the 25th anniversary of a Nation-wide South African miners strike.

Striking mine workers before the strike on Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Marikana Massacre resulted out of a week-long strike by mineworkers who were demanding a raise on their minimum monthly salary. Feeling cheated by their employers, the mineworkers went on strike demanding R12,500 ($860) as a monthly salary instead of the R4,000 ($275) that they had been receiving. The massacre was the climax of similar deaths that had been recorded earlier that week due to the strike by the mineworkers who worked for the mine owned by Lonmin in Marikana.

police shooting at the scene

It is interesting to note that the case of the massacre has since 2012 been neglected and not resolved by the court or the government. Families of the deceased have since not been given any answers as to why the male workers were shot dead that day and neither have they been compensated. Despite annual markings of the sad event, no official visit by any person of higher position has been made to Marikana to speak with the people of the town or the families of the deceased.

Lack of proper investigation has left the causes of the massacre a speculative story as one party argues that the workers attacked the police who were left with no choice but to shoot. Another party argues that the Police Officers overused their power as the workers were against their employer and not them.

According to SowetanLive, Thami Nkosi‚ Right 2 Know’s campaign organiser for Gauteng said that it was disheartening that‚ six years later‚ politicians had still not taken accountability for the massacre. Nkosi went on to say that “Over the years politicians have done their best to dodge responsibility and have instead frustrated the process. There has been a deliberate attempt by political heads to derail justice. The longer this drags, the better for them.”

A recent scene of the massacre

Despite neglect of the case, new reports have been brought with the hopes of getting closer to the root of the massacre.  According to SowetanLive, a new report indicates that, contrary to popular belief, no evidence points to the claim that the miners were attacking the police which led to a shooting. This goes against previous findings that indicated that the miners, in an attempt to prove a point aimed at attacking the police who were left with no option but to shoot.

The Marikana massacre gained the attention of the world and till this day is discussed and marked annually. Such a dark day in history should definitely not go unresolved out of respect for the families and for the sake of enhancing proper force training in South Africa and other African countries.

Since its happening, the Marikana Massacre has left South Africa in a dilemma on how to mourn and mark this day.


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