Gordimer distressed at mine 'massacre'

2012-08-18 17:00

Johannesburg - Nobel literature prize winner Nadine Gordimer, a powerful critic of apartheid, said she never imagined the police violence that killed 34 miners could ever happen in the new South Africa.

In scenes that drew comparisons to the infamous 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when apartheid police fired into a crowd of blacks, police on Thursday opened fire into group of striking miners demanding a tripling of their salaries.

"I am absolutely devastated. I can't believe this terrible massacre between our own people, our own black people," she said in an interview. "Ghastly, completely unacceptable."

"If you ask me when we celebrated our victory in the struggle, when Umkhonto weSizwe (the ANC armed wing) won against the South African army, and especially those of us around, as I was in the ANC, we could never have believed this would ever happen," she said.

Police said they acted in self defence against the armed protestors.

Gordimer said South African police lacked crowd control skills, despite the recurring protests against poor living conditions across the country.

Inequalities overlooked

"I don't understand why, since we have had so many protests over the living conditions of people living in shacks, why the police do not have sophisticated, more competent methods of dealing with people who become violent in a crowd.

"Why would you simply pick up your gun and shoot back?"

Gordimer, who had several works banned by the apartheid regime, said in the dawn of democracy euphoria, a host of inequalities were overlooked and no plans were put in place to deal with them.

"There were many factors we didn't take into account. All we were absolutely interested about was getting rid of apartheid. We didn't realise that the financial inequality along with all the other inequalities, were sure going to be with us."

"And unfortunately we seem to have quite wrongly not talked about this before, and how we were going to deal with this situation."

The 88-year-old writer and political activist said as a young white girl she was made to believe that black miners were dangerous.

'Most important working factor'

But as she grew up and became politically aware, she got to understand the deplorable living conditions of black mine workers, who were kept far away in so-called compounds.

As co-author of the book On The Mines, she went in to understand first-hand the mine workers' living conditions, which she believes have not improved much.

"The compounds, the sleeping quarters, were concrete bunks, one above the other, concrete. And I don't know what the conditions are like now [but] I am sure they are not particularly comfortable.

She said the "incredible" compound system continued "until I am sure, very recently".

"These people are really the most important working factor in bringing out the wealth that we have, our wealth, our platinum, our gold and uranium underground. They have always been underpaid and under-cared for."

Many of them have suffered from mining-related illnesses such as tuberculosis, she said.

Owner not spared

She was also annoyed that President Jacob Zuma did not return home immediately in the thick of the violence.

"President Zuma was on some mission in Mozambique. Why didn't he get on one of his private jets and come back immediately to deal with the trouble?"

She does not spare mine owners from blame.

"I want to see them brought into the public domain to [explain] what they intend to do to change the conditions of these workers."

  • vmarokhu - 2012-08-18 18:26

    I am with GORDMIER,I blaim police,for me there are not properly trained on a crowd control,because not all were having guns and not all wanted that to happen,it was just indivitual,so they were suppost to take cover,if possible to observe were the shoting comes from and aim at the target,if they cant see the target,they were suppost to shoot a couple of times in the air to dismis the crowd cos now they only shot the innocent people and most of them was shot at the u can even find out they didnt even kill those people who were shooting them,they kill the wrong once

      hendrik.breed - 2012-08-18 20:49

      I am not actually trained to defend my family, house and property, but I am armed and I will put a bullet in anybody's head trying to invade my home or harm my family

      driekus.dekock - 2012-08-18 21:20

      If 2000 people run towards you and 1 person fires a shot, how do you see whio fired the shot. Be realistic. What were the wrong people doing in the crown? If they were there, they were wrong.

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 03:06

      It's easy to blame the police if you sit safe in your house. Let's train you up. Give you a rubber bullets as ammo. Put you in that same situation where people rush at you with spears and panga's and see what you do. Either you're going to 1) spoil you pants 2) Not shoot plastic rounds fast enough, or even stop them 3) run away 4) or end up being murdered. My guess is we would have read about miners massacring police officers. Then there would be a national outcry again of police not being trained properly once again and that they don't have control or lack of power. The two security guards that were murdered were tortured first. They jaws were cut off and their hands and feet tied while still alive. Then set alight according a mine security video. ooooh, the national outcry is always facinating coming from the safe houses. If someone is running towards me with a panga to kill me, im sure as hell is not going to shoot him to protect his human rights with a rubber bullet. I going to kill the mother&$£**£ker. If they were unarmed, that's another story. From life experience it's usually these bleeding heart liberals that become cannon fodder first. It's just the rule of nature. Here's the article about the video -

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-19 07:25

      But hleriche, how many of those killed had guns, pangas and spears in their hands. I, along with others think that the police panicked, just as they did at Sharpville. Incidentally, the fact that at Sharpville they may not have been armed is beside the point, the few police would probably have been torn limb from limb.

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 09:14

      Point is, 1) did these people only want to hurt the police, or 2) they wanted to kill the police. Taking your answer from above, here's your two weapons to stop them. 1) rubber bullet 2) live ammo You want to kill me? I'll kill you before giving you a rubber bullet to think about it and to try again.

      louis.olivier.988 - 2012-08-19 11:41

      What they don’t tell you about the run up to Sharpeville massacre was that 7 policemen a few weeks before were hacked to death by a peaceful protesting mob in Lemontville Durban and then a handful of police were surrounded at the Sharpeville police station by about 20,000 chanting armed blacks (So called peaceful protesters). Can you imagine the frame of mind of the policemen at that time, knowing that 7 of their colleagues were hacked to death and they could suffer the same fate. Now draw the comparison to the recent incident at the mine, a few days before two policemen and two security guards were killed (Hacked to death) and a few days later the cops open fire and kill 35……… As for this specimen GORDIMER, let me be frank with you, you are an idiot that only got that worthless prize because you were against the white of SA and milked to the maximum, loved it and made lots of money. You thought you were so holy and untouchable, but let face it can take some people out of the bush but not the bush out of them. Now that you no longer live in this hell hole call democratic South Africa of you making, why don’t you shut the &987^787 up. No doubt this comment will be deleted within a few minutes since the real true hurts and is unacceptable by the publically brain washed.

  • pws69 - 2012-08-18 18:32

    Gordimers comment got me thinking back to the late 80's and early 90's. We had very militant marches with in excess of 20,000 people in some of them, and the worst violence usually was a couple of overturned dustbins, and on the odd occasion, some broken shop windows. Why? The protesters understood the consequences. I'm not debating right or wrong, just making an observation.

  • IcemanGP - 2012-08-18 20:04

    The cANCer armed wing never won against the SA army. They were fkking cowards that took on soft targets.

      mundu.olewega - 2012-08-19 05:18

      Agreed, we never got to shoot their asses, they just bombed innocent civilians indiscriminately and skulked away. She is just another traitor who should just stfu.

  • justin.pretorius - 2012-08-18 20:12

    "our victory in the struggle, when Umkhonto weSizwe (the ANC armed wing) won against the South African army" It was a political victory at best Gordimer (who no longer lives in SA)

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-19 07:29

      And it was a victory brought about by the USA refusing to 'roll over' loans. SA could not survive without money.

  • Rooinek007 - 2012-08-18 20:16

    "a powerful critic of apartheid, said she never imagined the police violence that killed 34 miners could ever happen in the new South Africa" What the hell made you think that?

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-19 07:30

      Woolly bunny-hugging thinking. Or rather not thinking rationally and acting one her emotions.

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 09:18

      It's typical naive idealistic liberal thinking. The difference between a liberal and conservative is, life experience. One judge things on naivety and idealism, the other on realism and life experience. When natural selection happens as per Darwin, liberals become cannon fodder first. Their survival instincts are zero.

  • - 2012-08-18 20:23

    Nadiene Gordimer where do you get your facts from. If the CIA and Yanks did not dump us, we would have taken Angola. We gave the Russians, Cubans, SWAPO, etcm a hard time. We were not defeated FW De Klerk pulled us out as per the UN. And when you say MK won, do you mean planting a bomb in Magoo's bar in Durban and killing 3 innocent young women. The killer who never showed any remorse. Nice victory hey? For all their communist training they could not defeat us. They were too scared of a 1 on 1 fight

      flysouth - 2012-08-18 21:17

      I know a man who led a SADF armoured column into Angola. He stood on a hillside looking down into Luanda not 5 miles away, awaiting the order to push on and take the city. That order never came, instead he was told to withdraw to SWA.That was when the Americans git cold feet and failed to carry through on their promise of diplomatic support for such an action. On the journey back he 'liberated' a Piper Cherokee 4-seater airplane at an airfield they passed - and flew it back to SA. Probably still owns and flies it! I know another ex-SAAF pilot who flew a Bucaneer at Cuito Carnavale - the big battle that today, it is claimed, the Cubans and the 'forces of liberation' won - bollocks, he and his GIB (guy in back) personally destroyed just about all the armour that the Cubans brought to the party with the massive payload of rockets and bombs that airplane carried. he only flew home when he had used all his ordnance and wasted everything that moved. A 'walk in the park', as he calls it. Planting bombs to kill innocents is of course, what the ANC understands as 'warfare'.

      walter.lebza - 2012-08-18 21:25

      Brendan, why do you keep saing 'we', 'we were never defeated'. Were you part of the apartheid government or you're only dreaming of seeing those 'horrible for black people' days?

      AlexLaw - 2012-08-18 23:51

      you are a die hard racist. how sad.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-19 07:33

      History is rewritten by the victors, and, helped by Gordimer, the anc were the victors.

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 09:21

      Isn't it fascinating how many of the comments on here spewed by so-called "liberals" are done behind fake profiles!? We always knew liberals are spineless, but it's good to see it in "writing".lol

  • Zahir - 2012-08-18 20:41

    The number of violent protests around SA shows the Anc has lost control of country and has no response to people issues and demands

  • - 2012-08-18 20:45

    All you people who are knocking the cops behaviour, remember the next time should there be an intruder in your house or your lives are in danger, try and think of the comments you posted on here dissing the cops before you call them

  • daniel.gie.54 - 2012-08-18 20:46

    Comrade Gordimer , let's get facts straight , the ANC never beat the SADF at anything ........This country had an election which was won by the clowns you support . The chickens are coming home to roost .....look at your achievements ...I hope you and your ilk are proud of yourselves .

  • brett.bruce.121 - 2012-08-18 21:03

    MK beat the SA arny? When and where? They never fought a single battle. This senile old woman has exposed her utter lack of knowledge of SA history. What a joke!

      flysouth - 2012-08-18 21:25

      They did fight a battle - with the Rhodesians - the RLI and the RAR. One battle - more like a few skirmishes really. I have just read 'A life too short' a book about and eulogising Chris Hani, the great Commie leader of the ANC's armed wing. That battle occurred in 1967 when Hani led 100 men through Rhodesia from Zambia through Wankie (Hwange), in order to plot a route for infiltration into SA. They very stupidly thought they could do the same trick as the Vietcong with a 'Ho Chi Minh trail' type deal. The Rhodies picked them up and soon wasted them - the 6 survivors including Hani ran to Botswana where they spent a year or two in jail. Following that there Hani as commander of MK was sidelined by the ANC executive and sat around for years twiddling his thumbs - and no more 'adventures' were contemplated or engaged in, other of course than blowing innocents to its by subterfuge. Won a battle against the SADF - in your dreams!

      bibi.shakwane - 2012-08-18 22:38

      Where is this mighty SADF now?

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 03:24

      ...replaced by joke of all armies, the Frankenstein, plastered together MK, PAC and whatwever guerilla armies, now known as the dysfunctional SANDF that can't even "drive" a submarine..... A funny subject for jokes around the world in military circles. I was proudly part of the mightiest army in Africa. And im proud to say I had the honour of servering with, and under, the best African soldiers in Africa within the SADF.

      schalkwbu31ger - 2012-08-19 09:56

      I have more respect for Swapo. At least they fought the army. What dit Mkand and Apla do? Terrorizing and murdering civilians they still can only attack old people and woman that can't protect themselves. Gordimer should just shut up

  • edna.errenrich - 2012-08-18 21:06

    oh dear Nadien are your our sweet innocent infdigenos pops not living up to your utopian bunny hug aspirations?

  • rouen.heiberg - 2012-08-18 21:11

    Why would you just pick up your gun and shoot you ask Ms.Gordimer?....simple....if you don't you would die.

  • noel.daniels.58 - 2012-08-18 21:33

    Firstly go read a history book... Nadine Gordimer does not need to make a name for herslef... She is a literary Giant in South Africa. She has done more for South Africa and for Black people than anyone in the government. To disrepect her is a symptom of the tragedy that is the modern world. We have forgetten the past and more importantly we have forgotten the heros of the past in favour of the slick talking promise artists that is the SA government. Lets put things in true persective. We... the people are responsible, because we ignore the truth until it errupts in violence. The miners did not start protesting a week ago, yet on the flip side of the coin they are voters and they are the ones that keep the false prophets in power. It is time for South Africa to wake up... It was the people that fought and won the struggle. The current government is a disgrace to the memories of those that gave their lives for freedom. But it is us that have failed, because we fail to see that the struggle will only be over once these false prophets are laid at our feet. South Africa must rise again... OPEN YOUR EYES.

      mundu.olewega - 2012-08-19 05:27

      That's your opinion. Many will judge her as a traitor to her people. What she is whining about now was the writing on the wall that she was too ignorant to see. I hope she is haunted by this until her last breath.

      neville.chamberlain.509 - 2012-08-19 12:41

      What a load of airy fairy doe-eyed cr*p. She is NOT a giant in any way, shape or form except in the minds of a few sycophantic hangers-on.

      amanda.victor.92 - 2012-08-21 09:01

      She's a liberal activist who feels guilty about everything connected to the white race. She's a traitor and is only distressed when her precious ANC are in trouble. When will she be distress about the farmers being murdered or 50 people dying in SA every day? Where is her outrage then?

  • walter.lebza - 2012-08-18 21:45

    Atleast this woman has a decency to know that the old apartheid government was unfair and abusive to african natives and critisized it. In her old age she can still see and critisize for a good course, not for ANC. Unlike some of you white people commenting here calling her 'red neck' and horrible names, wishing for apartheid days. She's a good woman, better than some of you.

      irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-08-18 22:50

      Ask yourself why she no longer lives here!

  • julie.j.vanrensburg - 2012-08-18 21:45

    I have yet to hear/read/learn that Gordimer has uttered a singel word of condemnation against all the murders against whites - particularly white farmers - rapes, fraud, theft that has become so rife since the ANC took over. But then, what else can ons ecpect from arch-liberals like her who see "them" as lily-white angels............

      hleriche - 2012-08-19 09:16

      Why would she? She's a closet racist that hate Afrikaners. I quote: ""Afrikaner women are lower than rats, closer related to plants, just fit enough to be raped in an act of genus preservation." - Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize winner."

  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-08-18 22:51

    No time for this woman. It's a big liberal sprouting off it's mouth but where is she today? Why did she leave after 1994? It's one thing to talk but it's another thing to walk the talk. Groot bek from over the pond.

  • dea.jacobs - 2012-08-19 07:00

    And what about the unions! The blood should be on their hands!! Instigating the illegal strike, embark on it whilst our country makes provision for conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Tragic.

  • keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-19 07:19

    All the anc was interested in was getting rid of apartheid; and by extension, getting into power themselves, and bugger the rest. It is clear that all the woolly-minded white supporters of the anc had not thought far enough. "No" voters in 1994 knew what was going to happen, not in detail but in general. The anc is still in the same frame of mind and it will fight to stay in power instead of doing what is right for the future of the country.

  • dionev - 2012-08-19 07:52

    As far as history goes back, long before apartheid, black tribes have been massacring each other in South Africa. Her statement about it is funny. Tribes of all colours and creeds all over the world do it all the time.

  • PF - 2012-08-19 08:13

    Auntie Nadine should stick to writing books.Not that I think she is good at it, but it will keep her mind away from matters which she knows nothing about.Sorry Auntie.

  • tyron.greunen - 2012-08-19 08:56

    perhaps all the liberals should quit your day job and become a police officer,you all seem like experts,enough with the big talk,sign up to be a member.

  • debbie.carrdonald - 2012-08-19 09:36

    In the struggle its was said the means justified the end. Now the means has become the end. The police were justified in doing what they did. There are consequences to violent protest

  • Vuyo - 2012-08-19 11:41

    Those who are responsible for the 10 deaths, including those of the 2 policemen, and the police responsible for the massacre must be brought to book. Nadine uya-rocker and this a 1st bout of fresh I have had since the Marikana massacre. It is the rotten capitalist system,its bourgeois rule variant of apartheid and the current lack of economic transformation that is entrenching neo-apartheid that is maily responsible for this mess.

  • nelson.nkosi.3 - 2012-08-19 14:07

    Oh come on ,Nadine the ANC NEVER beat the South African Army. Either you are senile or are smoking strong dagga. Like the police chief in Casablanca, you are shocked...shocked that blacks liked to kill each other!!! Without whitey around the population of Africa would be 90% lower. Need I remind you of Rwanda. I loved shocked, niave white Socialists.

  • reon.stoman - 2012-08-19 22:19

    I suggest Me Gordimer write a new book - Flee the Beloved Country

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