News / Africa

Year After South African Mine Shooting, Residents See No Change

Year After South African Mine Shooting, Residents See No Changei
X
August 16, 2013 2:24 PM
In South Africa, August 16, 2012, will be remembered as the date of one of the country's most violent police confrontations since the apartheid era. Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana. The miners were striking to demand a significant pay raise and improved conditions. Officials say that since then, progress has been made: a commission is investigating the incident and the miners have been granted some raises. But, as VOA’s Anita Powell learned when she visited the tense community a year later, residents believe things have changed for the worse, not better.
Anita Powell
In South Africa, August 16, 2012, will be remembered as the date of one of the country's most violent police confrontations since the apartheid era.  Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  The miners were striking to demand a significant pay raise and improved conditions.  Officials say that since then, progress has been made: a commission is investigating the incident and the miners have been granted some raises.  A year later, residents believe things have changed for the worse, not better.

  • Mine workers sing before a memorial service near the Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, August 16, 2013.
  • Mine workers dance before a memorial service near the Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, August 16, 2013.
  • Miners arrive for a commemoration service for the striking platinum miners that were killed a year ago, in Marikana, South Africa, August 16, 2013.
  • Mine workers sit on a hill where a year ago, police opened fire on fellow workers killing 34 and injuring 78, near the Marikana mine, South Africa, August 16, 2013.
  • Police attempt to stop mine workers from marching towards the mine before a memorial service, near the Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, August 16, 2013.
  • Miners who survived last year's shooting gather at the scene were they lost their fellow workers in Marikana, South Africa, August 15, 2013.

Many South Africans said this scene reminded them of the apartheid days.  Not since those dark days, they say, have they seen police shooting wildly into a crowd of black workers.

But this happened in 2012, when miners held an illegal strike at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  They were led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which challenged the powerful National Union of Mineworkers.

Police said that since last year, another 13 union members have been killed -- and that many of the slayings happened in broad daylight.

Just days before the one-year anniversary, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa visited the scene of a shooting of a female union representative, who was killed in front of her house.

Critics accuse police of not doing enough to solve the crimes, a charge Mthethwa disputes. “No, people have been arrested.  And as you know, you must have your facts right, as you know, the Farlam Commission released people who police have tracked down and arrested, and those people are at large,” he explained.

Police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said police have formed the Mine Crime Combating Forum, a joint initiative of police, unions and industry. “These are some of the efforts that are being put to ensure that labor, communities, the police in the forefront.  We all work together to ensure that we bring the necessary peace and stability that is relevant in this area.  And we also call the relevant citizens of this area to work with us,” he said.

Dozens of residents gave VOA near-identical accounts of being harassed and intimidated by union representatives.

But few would speak on camera, saying they feared they might be targeted by union-backed thugs.

The area was raided just days before by police, and residents said they don’t feel safe.

“Not at all," mineworker Sibongiseni Mibuzi said. "No, I’m not safe.  Even the police don’t make me feel safe, because they come here at night and raid,” he said.

This mineworker said he constantly feels threatened.

“The security in this place is very poor.  Police just show up, kick people’s doors in in the middle of the night," said mineworker Bangela Phathekile. "It is not safe at all.  Our lives are at risk.”

A year later, there are few signs of the massive bloodshed that happened on this plain outside the mine.

These crosses, representing the shooting victims, were not here last year.  But these 34 deaths are not the only ones that stain the ground of Marikana.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs