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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More