An Academic’s In-Depth Account of the Marikana Massacre Marred by Curious Omissions


Intervention serves a litigation review from Johannesburg based Daily Maverick whose preface to the review is: Dans Marikana: a popular story, Julian Brown, professor of political studies at Wits University, has written what is probably the most comprehensive account to date of the Marikana massacre and its aftermath. But there are a few curious omissions that detract from what is, in many ways, an excellent work of scholarship.

The Examiner

By Ed Stoddard

On August 16 this year, South Africa will mark the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre, which saw 34 wildcat miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine shot dead by police.

The atrocity could also be called the Marikana murders, because that’s what it was – a cold-blooded murder. the the murderous intent of the police was first uncovered by news reports in Daily Maverickyet a decade later, justice has still been denied.

Scholar-minded Julian Brown brought this tragic story to life in what is probably the most comprehensive account of the massacre, building a compelling case against the police and the mining company as the perpetrators of this shocking crime.

Subtitle A popular storyit follows a rich vein of scholarship that seeks to give voice to people such as miners and their families, placing their experiences at the center of the historical stage.

The work draws heavily on interviews with surviving strikers and their families, while presenting a forensic analysis of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry’s final report.

“My husband was not a violent person…he was a good person. He could never fight anyone,” is how Zameka Nungu remembers her husband Jasckson Lehupa, who was among the victims of the massacre.

Noting the “…gap between the wealth of evidence produced during the commission of inquiry processes and the paucity of its final report,” Brown sets out to correct the record, including the many lies spewed by the police to cover their tracks. at the two sites where the massacre took place.

Among the most egregious of these was the laying of weapons by or on the bodies of the miners shortly after their murder, to give the impression that they were all armed and dangerous.

This was done at scene one, where the first 17 miners who were killed were shot in eight lethal seconds, and at scene two, where another 17 miners were shot while hiding between rocks and under bushes or were trying to abandon.

In short, they were hunted down in a predatory manner as if they were prey.

Then there were photographs taken and then hidden that showed miners – who later died of their injuries – still alive. They never received the immediate medical attention that could have saved their lives.


Brown recounts how flaws in the police narrative were initially uncovered days after the massacre through the hard work of reporters at that publication.

For Daily MaverickMandy de Waal reported on a University of Johannesburg investigation into police efforts to clear the site of the massacre, while by Greg Marinovich The efforts revealed how physical evidence from Scene 2 revealed that the police account of a “militant group” accusing them was a baseless lie.

Brown criticizes much of the media coverage of the massacre, while acknowledging the role he played in challenging the official version.

The Commission of Inquiry, headed by Judge Ian Farlam, is thoroughly examined in this book.

His carelessness towards the families of the murdered men was at times breathtaking.

Brown recounts how the commission on the first morning read a roll call from the dead — a process that was to allow family members to stand when the names of their deceased loved ones were announced. But none was present to play their role in this transparent play.

The chaotic organization meant that several families were unaware that the investigation had even begun, and no one had thought to provide them with transport to the location.

This set the tone for the lack of respect often shown towards families. The South African state can always be counted on to despise those it claims to “serve”.

Brown notes that in its “closing remarks,” the commission held the strikers at least “partly responsible” for Lonmin’s refusal to negotiate and the heavy police presence.

“Taking up arms and resorting to violence is neither constructive nor appropriate to protect and uphold one’s rights,” the report said.

“The tone and substance of this final condemnation of the strikers stands out because no similar condemnation is given in this report to the actions of police officers and commanders,” Brown writes.

“Individual police officers are defended in the report, their actions are excused and justified, and their liability for their actions is minimized.

“The violent actions of some strikers are – by comparison – taken to represent the actions of all those who participated in the strike, and all are therefore violently condemned by the association.”

Lonmin – a company that no longer exists, to which we will come back later – is also going badly. In some cases, the company used Teba – a labor brokerage firm – to notify families that their loved ones were among the dead.

Lonmin’s notorious failure to deliver on many of his promises regarding worker housing also features in the narrative, along with his steadfast refusal to negotiate with the strikers, which helped set the stage for the massacre.

Brown also points to the background role of the migrant labor system and the creation of sordid “company towns” such as Marikana. Social and labor grievances are deeply rooted in the Platinum Belt and are the product of decades of preposterous exploitation. The consequences of this state of affairs are still being felt.

This book and subsequent revelations have caused this reviewer – who has covered Amcu’s rise to the platinum belt – to re-evaluate some of his own assumptions and reports from a decade ago.

Still, this reviewer has some quibbles. Brown downplays the admittedly obscure role of union rivalry as one of the drivers of the violence that preceded the massacre, while explaining how the NUM’s lack of focus on traditional union issues paved the way for its loss of appeal among its members.

What could an ace trade unionist who is, however, the incumbent president of South Africa do about a dark spot like Marikana?

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said in his testimony to the commission that the strike was not the product of union rivalry and that neither the NUM nor Amcu had any control over it. NUM disagreed with this version of events in its testimony.

It was likely that neither union was in control of the strike when that fateful day dawned. But inter-union tensions – effectively a turf war between the NUM and Amcu – undoubtedly preceded and followed the events of August 16, 2012, and were for years a source of violence and unrest on the labor belt. platinum and in the gold fields.

This reviewer was one of the first reporters to attend an Amcu rally, which was held weeks before the massacre at an Impala Platinum venue. I was invited after contacting Crispen Chinguno, who at the time was researching platinum belting for his doctorate at Wits and is quoted in Brown’s book.

Prior to the rally, my Amcu escorts allowed me to illegally enter a mine in Implats, where they proudly showed me how they had taken over the office premises formerly owned by NUM.

The message was direct: Amcu was taking over and was clearly in charge.

Even mine security was clearly intimidated by this upstart union, which is how I was able to gain access to the mine premises without company permission. Subsequent allegations of bullying against Amcu often seemed credible.

Indeed, there was often an air of menace and intimidation at Amcu gatherings – I’ve covered several, and it’s one of my lasting impressions.

Writing about the five-month platinum strike in 2014 led by Amcu, Brown makes no mention of the clear intimidation that was involved in keeping the base in line.

The Amcu rally where the “strike vote” took place – and which I attended – took place in the open air and, believe me, only a fool would have dared to say “no”.

It is also true that almost all of the Amcu strikes and the union’s early organizing drives in the platinum belt and gold mines sparked violence. And members of Amcu and NUM have been murdered over the years in obvious coups. These are facts and it’s pretty easy to connect the dots.

In this context, Brown’s vision of Amcu sometimes comes across as a rose-tinted vision.

An outside reader of this account, with little knowledge of the mining industry, would also be forgiven for feeling that Lonmin was still functional. It would be a miracle – a business raised from the dead.

Brown often treats Lonmin as if he were still alive and active, writing at one point that “Lonmin has continued to be a major player in the platinum industry”.

In fact, his obituaries were written in 2019, when the company’s assets – fatally hampered by, among other things, the legacy of the massacre – were taken over by Sibanye-Stillwater. The book was published this year.

In his conclusion, titled The work of mourning, no mention is made of the Marikana renewal process that Sibanye initiated, including the construction of houses for the families of murdered minors. This stands in unflattering contrast to claims that Amcu has done little for the bereaved.

The failure to mention the fact that Lonmin no longer exists and the process of renewal and healing undertaken by Sibanye are glaring omissions.

This – along with an often blind view by Amcu – detracts from what, in many ways, is an excellent piece of scholarship and an authoritative account of the events surrounding this tragedy. DM/BM

(function (d, s, id) {ntt var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];ntt if (d.getElementById(id)) return;ntt js = d.createElement(s);;ntt js.src=”//″;n tt fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);ntt}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));


“,”connect_hash”:”4dfa349d6522c09701928ba8b3819930″}]; /* ]]> */

Source link


Comments are closed.