We are going to kill each other today: The Marikana Story
By Thanduxolo Jika et al
Published by Paarl Media Paarl
JOURNALIST-CUM-AUTHOR Lucas Ledwaba on the scene at Marikana writes, “Police made it clear that that Thursday August 16 was D-Day; on that day they would end the vigil by more than
3 000 rock drill operators which was attracting growing national and international interest in the mining town of Marikana in the North West Province.”
August 16 2012 marked the climax of the three-day strike at Lonmin platinum mines in Marikana, South Africa.
A group of four journalists and two photographers were on the scene and walked among the strikers meeting some for the last time as three days later 34 of them died.
The journalists Felix Dlangamandla, Thanduxolo Jika, Lucas Ledwaba, Sebabasto Mosamo, Athandwe Saba and Leon chronicle the events of the strike in their book We are going to kill each other today: The Marikana Story.
The journalists were not only on the scene as events developed but followed the story to the hills of Lesotho into the homes of some migrant miners, who worked at Lonmin.
They went into the homes of the living and deceased miners, into the tin shacks and hostels, where they slept and walked in the corridors of the union organisations and mining offices.
The cover of their book shows a man in a green blanket, Mgcinineni Noki, who led the 3 000 strikers and died a gruesome death.
“The cause of death was a bullet wound to the head, causing brain lacerations. He also had gunshot wounds in the left side of his face and neck, right thigh, buttocks, right calf and left leg,” writes Saba.
The police in their statements said the miners, who were carrying knobkerries and traditional weapons had attacked and police shot back with live ammunition in self defence.
Noki’s and other miners’ autopsy shows that they were shot in the back meaning they were fleeing from the scene and not attacking the officers.
On that day the state institution made it clear whose side they were on, Ledwaba quotes the provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Zikiswa Mbombo who in a press conference before the shooting said, ”We are going to end this today; don’t ask me how; but we are ending this.”
In post-colonialism and apartheid very little has changed in the mining industry.
Recently at one of the rallies towards Zimbabwe’s elections President Mugabe emphasised the need to revisit the laws of economics that dictate that those with capital have more bargaining power than those with resources.
Intellectuals and think-tanks over the years have come together at seminars and conferences discussing why Africa, which is rich in mineral resource never prospers beyond tea and biscuits.
Each year they write papers on their recommendations many skirting the real reasons why the economic plans forced and coerced down African planners never work.
In many mining towns across the continent, companies each year mine billions and trillions worth of resources and leave peanuts for the citizens and workers.
The colonial law and textbook which Africa has adopted was designed in favour of the capitalistic West in which those with resources are made to believe they have little value.
A year before the Marikana killings in 2011 Lonmin, according to their published profile, had raked in US$1 992 billion in revenue.
If the money was divided among its 27 796 employees according to the 2011 revenue collected each worker would get an average of US$71 665.
Yet the rock driller operators and miners at the plant get an average of three to six thousand dollars a year.
It was alleged that the executive management received the salary of about 245 rock drill operators combined with a salary of overUS$ 800 000 per year.
On August 14 3 000 illiterate miners took the situation into their own hands disregarding their workers’ unions whom they believed were already compromised and no longer represented their interests.
Diverse in background yet with identical intent the miners sat on a kopje with their knobkerries and traditional weapons singing songs of ‘freedom’.
According to the writers on site from day 14, in their book the miners refused to move until their employers engaged with them.
“The truth is that we live like pigs while the mine smiles when we dig the platinum and make them rich” a miner from Eastern Cape Thobisile Jali is quoted by Jika in the book.
The miners, who had the double burden of sending money home and to sustain themselves opted to leave the hostels to live in shacks so they could get the 1 850 rands to send home.
Thus they lived tin self-built or rented shacks, which they shared with goats, pigs, chickens, dogs with their children playing in the filth.
On that day 34 families lost not only relatives but bread winners.
“Many of the miners were young. With young wives and young children and had big dreams for their futures. In a bitter irony, many were working to provide their children with better education so they could rise above a future on the mines,” writes Athandwe Saba in the book.
The writers quote William Gumede, who writes in his article in the Guardian, “Marikana has shown that a black life, 18 years after racism was supposed to have been banished, still counts for very little, and that the inequalities between the rich (mostly white) and the poor (mostly black) remain largely unchanged.”
Opposition parties and their allies have been baffled as to why Zimbabweans would again vote ZANU PF.
The answer maybe be simple and could also assist some think tanks.
It is simply, partly as a result of the indigenisation policy.
The policy ensured that those mining our resource should take care of the community and its citizens.
Although demonised by capitalists as ‘scaring’ investors it might be the only solution that can help Africa as so far nothing seems to.