News24 reported on Sunday that President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning for the lives that was taken by the horrible encounters at Marikana.
A couple of days ago 34 people died in a violent clash with the police. If you have not been on mars you would know that the miners are striking to get a salary increase. They are demanding an increase from R5000 to R12500. Julius Malema threw petrol on the fire by saying that they should die for the cause and never retreat. This kind of talk and actions seem all too familiar for South Africans that lived in the previous era.
Was this type of violence not inevitable?
Every year we see the kettle boiling with workers across South Africa that are striking for salary increases. Trains and busses, and sometimes people, are getting burned to a crisp. Not even talking about our streets getting littered and services disrupted. Could we predict that someday the kettle will actually boil over?
I am sure that institutions have their reasons not to give in to the salary increase demands of their workers, however why do we first have to go through havoc before they give in to the demands?
The strikers seem to be the people that are in the middle while politicians are tightly locked away in boardrooms busy arm wrestling.
Unfortunately this is not a new scene in South Africa. We have been through similar events in the past 18 years. Why did we not predict the violence and put actions into place to ensure it does not happen again?
Our hearts goes out to the family members that have been affected by the viciousness of the situation. In the same breath we also need to understand that the only victims in this case are the families.
The strikers although urged by Julius are herd-thinkers and could be killers, the police might be trigger happy, the unions want political power, and the mine wants workers that are willing to work for nothing.
“A week of national mourning” might help the families deal with the death of their loved ones, but this seems too reactive. We should be proactive and put actions in place to ensure that the kettle does not boil over again.
Or maybe violence is the acceptable way to get what you want.