Thursday 16th August 2012 will go down in the history books as the day the South African Police fired on strikers in a small town called Marikana. The newspapers have in their normal sensation seeking style have put up big black placards stating “Marikana Massacre” . I suppose this description will become the naming convention of what occurred out there in the dusty streets of Marikana.
Following the various news reports it is alleged that in three minutes more than 30 strikers were killed and 100’s wounded . The newspapers wrote that a shoot-out between police and strikers occurred. Yet in the various photographs and videos that were taken I seem to miss seeing any firearms being brandished by the strikers. So my definition of a shoot-out is when two parties shoot at each other and this does not seem to have occurred.
Many years ago we were trained in crowd control, and nothing in your training can ever prepare you for the time when an angry crowd is storming down on you brandishing spears, machetes and other instruments that could do you serious bodily harm. Then if there is any lack of training it is a case of self-preservation that takes over. Once the first shot is fired the rest becomes history.
All the various political parties have come out with the normal noises deploring what has happened and the need for an investigation as to why this massacre happened.
The police have had their normal news conferences saying that a full investigation will done on what really happened, so that those responsible could be brought to task. Knowing how the police cover their mishaps by losing documents and witnesses going missing, I strongly doubt that there will be any finding other than they were protecting themselves and that the strikers were to blame for everything that happened. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa‘s office said in a statement on Thursday that the police were faced by armed and hardcore criminals who murder police”. This type of statement being made before any enquiry has even started is totally inappropriate as it immediately sets the tone of what route the enquiry will take. And the hell does she know they were hardcore criminals? Maybe she owes the families of those killed an apology..
The following extract is from News24 and actually drives straight at the heart of what is happening throughout South Africa currently. (The rainbow nation no longer exists and has faded away in total.)
The Inkatha Freedom Party on Thursday said the massacre at the mine highlighted the brewing tensions within South African society and should not be underestimated.
“It’s horror should not only shock u,s but bring to the fore how too often conflicts in this country are dealt with through violence,” IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said.
“Unless there is a fundamental change of culture at the highest level of government things will worsen.”
“As Azapo we can only describe the situation as a massacre not different from March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville; June 16, 1976 in Soweto and June 17, 1992 in Boipatong,” the party said.
The spokesperson forgot to mention that here in South Africa we seem to have quite a lot of massacres in our short history. He forgot to mention the Shell House massacre , St James Church massacre , Cato Manor , and a couple more that happened in in the Transkei as well. (check out Banshee Bridge massacre as well..)
What a country we live in!
Pictures by : Taurai Maduna (EWN) Felix Dlangamandla (Beeld) and Associated Press