The mayhem, unleashed last week around a platinum mine site in South Africa, marks one of the most horrendous developments of the post-apartheid era.
On Thursday, 16 August, South African police fired on a crowd of people, gathered on a hilltop outside the Marikana mine in NorthWest province. The shootings left thirty four dead, and hundreds more injured. Earlier in the week, another ten people had already died in “clashes”.
But, beyond these appalling facts, almost nothing else has yet been verified.
The Marikana mine is owned by London-based Lonmin, whose major shareholder is London-listed mining company Xstrata. Xstrata’s own record is also appalling (see http://londonminingnetwork.org/tag/xstrata/ for a full list of LMN’s coverage of Xstrata).
London Mining Network member group ACTSA issued a statement after the massacre:
Deaths and injuries around Marikana mine
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) is deeply saddened and greatly concerned by the more than 34 deaths and many injuries in the clashes at and around the Marikana mine in North West Province, South Africa.
We send our condolences to the families of all those who have died and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to those injured.
We welcome there is to be a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. It needs to be thorough, decisive and quick.
The inquiry should look at causes, contributing factors and where appropriate apportion responsibility for what happened at Marikana. Justice needs to be done. Lessons need to be learned and applied, to stop such tragic events ever recurring.
The right to peaceful protest should be upheld. The policing of such protests should be appropriate and designed to minimise the possibility of injury and death, not contribute to or cause them.
Democratic South Africa is a great achievement. The terrible events around the Marikana mine show South Africa as well as having achievements has many challenges, and reducing poverty and inequality is urgent and key.