KOPPIE

On the 16th August 2012, thirty-four Lonmin mineworkers were gunned down by the South African police. News footage aired to the world the massacre as it unfolded and constituted the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the Soweto uprising in 1976.

 

The striking mineworkers only appeal, a wage increase and to address the poor living and work conditions in Marikana.

 

More than four years after the Marikana massacre, the presidency issued a directive calling on relevant government departments to implement recommendations made by the ‘Farlam Commission of Inquiry’. This would have resulted in several police officers facing murder or attempted murder charges.

 

However, to this day there have been no prosecutions or compensation provided to those families of the deceased. For the injured mineworkers that survived, they remain at home, unemployed, paralysed and reliant on their wives who are subjected to the harsh reality of trying to make a living on the mines in place of their husbands.

 

For many like Tholakele Dlunga a committed outspoken man, who played a key role as negotiator prior to, and witness during the strikes, was tragically shot dead some years later outside his home. He once said, “Management don’t come with a better solution so we are afraid to strike or march because they answer with bullets.” Tholakele gestures to an AMCU poster. “We have our president, ‘the son of God’, Joseph Mathunjwa, so we hope that he is going to help us.”

 

Since that tragic day in 2012, I frequent the ‘Marikana Koppie’, a rocky outcrop that stands as a symbol of the struggle, a reminder of the slain mineworkers on 16th August 2012. Visiting this space on the anniversary date of the massacre every year, as I and others pay homage. One is reminded of the nature of the work that takes these men and women deep underground. Anonymous in their labour, the rock, the rubble the dust is an ominous and constant presence on mind, body and soul.