The day I witnessed a massacre

2012-09-23 07:16

August 16, the day I witnessed the Marikana massacre, will stay with me for many years to come.

I took a frame or two while running to the other end of the field.

I went under the fence towards a rock, positioning myself on the opposite side to get pictures of the police who were gearing up to form a wall.

Suddenly I heard: “bababababa!” I tripped, fell to the ground, tasted the dust and so did my camera.

Police started shooting at the mine workers with rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition.

I soon realised just how serious the situation was getting and I was in the firing line.

Gasping for air, I took cover behind a rock that I now call my life saver. After what seemed like forever, the shooting stopped, there was smoke everywhere and I was still dazed from the tear gas when I saw a large number of mine workers lying on the ground.

The photojournalist in me wanted to keep on taking pictures, but my eyes were flooded with tears and my camera was damaged from the fall.

When I eventually gained full consciousness, I was shocked to realise that most of those men on the ground were dead. Some were still trying to move, but were too weak to do anything.

I felt I knew those men.

I arrived at the mine on Tuesday, August 14, two days prior to the shooting.

It was going to be a protest like any other I have covered before – or so I thought.

My mandate was to get there and produce the pictures that will best represent the situation from all sides.

I met with the miners to hear their side of the story and to create an atmosphere in which I could capture the real emotions of their plight.

They were gathered at the Marikana hill, a few metres away from the mining operations.

They told me about the difficulties to support their families on their salaries. Many came from Lesotho, the Eastern Cape and Swaziland.

They were willing to take a stand for a better life for themselves and their families – they wanted R12 500.
Two days later, police shot dead 34 of their colleagues, friends, brothers and fathers.

The confirmed wage settlement is a victory for the Marikana miners and their families will have some peace of mind for now, but it came at a price.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.