The Lonmin Mine Tragedy - Marikana”
The most recent story that has claimed the headlines on most of our news channels/ radio and in the press is the tragedy we recently had at Lonmin Mine. Police opened fire on a group of striking workers on Thursday, killing 34 of them and wounding 78. Another 260 were arrested and charged with public violence. The total death toll was 44 - 2 Police Officers and 2 Security Officers also lost their lives.
This is truly a disturbing turn of events and has our nation in mourning. With this sadness comes a great deal of anger too. We are a “Nation Torn”. As usual there are those among us who don’t really give a damn about what happened, as they don’t believe it affects them directly - so why even bother formulating a thought or opinion about it. Some people, especially the families of the striking workers, blame the Police, because of them using extraordinary measures including the use of live ammunition. Finally of course the other side of the fence, the one’s blaming the protestors, who like me are asking the question: “Why the hell are we going to protests with guns, machete’s, spears and panga’s???”
Parliament is up and arms over this event and they want answers, they want accountability – is it fair though to blame the ANC and Jacob Zuma for giving the maximum force order – I don’t necessarily know about that one.
Let’s review the events that led up to this tragedy:
There was a wage dispute between the striking mine workers and the Lonmin Mining Board – this obviously led to the mass strike action as Trade Unions failed to make ground not only with Lonmin but also amongst themselves. Looking at the demands, I find them slightly unrealistic – most of the workers want a R12 500 salary – this not financially feasible. But instead of calmly and logically mediating this situation, the trade unions involved urged their members to strike.
So what exactly prompted these workers to show up to this mass action with deadly weapons? Were they instructed to do so, and if so by whom???? – NONE OF THE TRADE UNIONS INVOLVED are claiming any kind of responsibility.
There were over 28 000 striking workers! This is clearly a vast amount of people.
Sufficed to say the mass action was anything but peaceful, and soon reinforcements were called in.
In fairness most of the Squad on the day were not prepared for the events that transpired. A lot of them, young and inexperienced, the training available to our Police force year’s ago sadly no longer in operation.– further more they were being attacked with deadly weapons. Putting yourself in any one of those Officer’s shoes what would you have done? Yes of course I want to know where the Army Tanks were with the teargas and the water hoses, why the next logical move for them was live ammo???? Who doesn't.
Recently footage has been leaked that does in fact show that the striking workers fired first! There were men and woman young and old in that squad. Lives were lost – but the bottom line to me is this, they took it upon themselves to serve and protect not only themselves and their families but also the innocent members of society around them. What would our reaction have been if these armed striking workers began to shoot and kill innocent non-striking employees or passers by in the area.
Shouldn’t we accept the blame as society and realize that the far greater issue at hand is not whether our Police Force used excessive force/measures. It is the question of why we deem it necessary to intimidate, threaten and scare people into submission to get what we want???? How do we justify the fact that those striking workers showed up with deadly weapons….. How can we brag about “social cohesion” when we can’t even agree on the fundamental problem with this picture?
The sad truth is that everyone involved had a hand in what led to this tragedy, firstly Capital Greed, I am sure that there are ways of making the Salaries of these mine workers, work for them better, South-Africa is a country sadly plagued by unemployment and poverty. The manual labourers of our nation tend to be on the bread line and therefore lots of them fall into this group. (But this is not why mineworkers are underpaid – I can’t fully go into the problem here as that’s a blog for another day : In short South-Africa should not be setting our precious metals and mineral prices based on financial indicators of first world countries, the truth is we can charge what we want for our precious metal anminerals as we still export most of it and there is still a huge demand internationally) .The second guilty party is the Trade Unions – they are the representatives for the people and should be able to convey concerns in a civilized manner. Furthermore they should be involved in educating and motivating their members to be informed of their rights and yes this includes the right to strike. But it needs to be implemented in a safe organised manner. Mediation, talking through issues, having debates, signing petitions, being willing to look at feasible options. Compromise is key to resolving disputes especially where money is concerned.Thirdly the striking workers are at fault, for coming armed. Then of course the SAPS has a hand in it too, why were those extraordinary measures required?
Instead the aftermath of the event has fuelled the fire of the ignorant, vengance is what they seek and it is madness:
JULIUS MALEMA has joined the residents and families of the victims in laying murder charges against the SAPS!!!!!!!
– This in itself scares the crap out of me, why are we giving this ignorant man a platform to speak to, and on behalf of the public, yet again! Get him the hell away from this issue before we hear the spewing of racism and him stirring up nonsense within parliament again. Please it’s been outplayed and we as a nation are over it!
Julius has actually called upon other mines in the North West to join in the pay revolt – WTF!!!!!!! And no people I am not being biased against Malema there are several articles relating to this currently available on News 24, Eye Witness News, BD Live, SABC’s news platforms. This is pure insanity.
“ROCK drill operators and other workers of at least two other North West platinum mining operations have made similar wage demands to those of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine — raising fears that the instability could spread.
At Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) Thembelani mine near Rustenburg, workers have given management until Friday to respond to their demands. At Royal Bafokeng’s BRPM mine, drillers are demanding R12,500 a month — the same as Lonmin’s strikers.”
Insert taken from BDLIVE article: Mine pay revolt spreads in aftermath of Marikana
by Carol Paton and Allan Seccombe, August 22 2012, 06:11
I can only begin to imagine what this looks like to foreign investors and the general public in countries abroad. We look like a bunch of savages with no comprehension or respect for human life – and it goes both ways. Can we all just take a step back and realise that the end does not justify the means.
What are those workers teaching their children, that if we don’t get what we want we can just stop working and go on a rampage. I can only imagine what the little girl/boy whose father left home that morning with a deadly weapon imprinted on their child – HORRIBLE to think that it’s ok to show our children that to intimidate or use violence to achieve our goals is the way to go!
If this was not those striking worker’s intention, then why come armed at all – if it was simply going to be a peaceful protest, there would’ve been no need for Police intervention.
Sadly a lot of the families who have lost a family member to this tragedy, can not or will not comprehend that their loved one had any part in their own demise. They will then in turn listen to people like Julius Malema, who will try to blame whomever they can, to make the issue something that it never was, this is called misdirection and sadly Malema is great at misdirecting the masses, he will use their grief and anger to fuel the fire in them and use it to for his personal advantage. The man loves nothing more than to cause chaos, because when everyone is doing damage control – no one is getting him quiet.
For crying in a bucket people, everyone wants answers and everyone deserves to know exactly where the paw-paw hit the fan, but in the meantime can we not add to the insanity.
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