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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid