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Voices from South Africa's Mining Massacre

By Peter Alexander

Publication Year: 2013

The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise. Through a series of interviews conducted with workers who survived the attack, this account documents and examines the controversial shootings in great detail, beginning with a valuable history of the events leading up to the killing of workers, and including eyewitness accounts of the violence and interviews with family members of those who perished.

While the official Farlam Commission investigation of the massacre is still ongoing, many South Africans do not hold much confidence in the government’s ability to examine its own complicity in these events. Marikana, on the other hand, examines the various roles played by the African National Congress, the mine company, and the National Union of Mineworkers in creating the conditions that led to the massacre. While the commission’s investigations take place in a courtroom setting tilted toward those in power, Marikana documents testimony from the mineworkers in the days before official statements were even gathered, offering an unusually immediate and unfiltered look at the reality from the perspective of those most directly affected. Enhanced by vivid maps that make clear the setting and situation of the events, Marikana is an invaluable work of history, journalism, sociology, and activism.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 5-6

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About the Authors

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pp. 7-8

Peter Alexander is a professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg and holds the South African Research Chair in Social Change. In the UK, he gained degrees from London University, was an academic at Oxford University, and held leadership positions in the Southern Africa Solidarity Campaign, ...

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pp. 8-9

This book includes testimony from strikers who were present at Marikana during the massacre that occurred on 16 August 2012. It offers ‘a view from the mountain’, from the koppie where workers were sitting when police manoeuvres commenced, and where many of our interviews were later conducted. ...

Maps of the area

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pp. 10-14

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1. Introduction: Encounters in Marikana

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pp. 15-24

On a blistering hot afternoon in Marikana just a few weeks after the brutal massacre of 16 August 2012, 10,000 striking workers carrying knobkerries and tall whips waited patiently in the sun. Four of us, researchers from the University of Johannesburg, found ourselves in the midst of the crowd. ...

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2. The Massacre: A Narrative Account Based on Workers’ Testimonies

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pp. 25-49

On 16 August 2012 the South African police massacred 34 strikers participating in a peaceful gathering on public land outside the small town of Marikana. The workers’ demand was simple. They wanted their employer, Lonmin, to listen to their case for a decent wage. ...

3. Background Interviews

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pp. 50-64

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4. Speeches

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pp. 65-74

Amandla [the power]! Awethu [is ours]! Viva workers, viva! Eish these airplanes [circling above the crowd of about 15,000 workers who were sitting very quietly and still on the grass outside Nkaneng] are disturbing us—let us continue regardless. ...

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5. Interviews with Mineworkers

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pp. 75-135

The interviews below are taken verbatim from translated transcripts. We did not intervene to censor or distort the workers’ voices. Most of them believed that two of their number had been killed in shootings outside the NUM offices on 11 August. We now know this was not the case. On this controversial incident, see Chapter 2. ...

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6. Analysis and Conclusion

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pp. 136-162

The Marikana Massacre seized the lives of at least 34 people, nearly all of them striking workers employed by Lonmin. It was an exceptional event, at least for South Africa. In 1992 the Ciskei Defence Force killed 28 anti-apartheid activists in Bhisho. ...

They Died at Marikana

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pp. 163-166

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444764
E-ISBN-10: 082144476X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420713
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420712

Page Count: 166
Illustrations: illustrations, maps
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 867740640
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Marikana

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Strikes and lockouts -- Miners -- South Africa -- Rustenburg.
  • Police shootings -- South Africa -- Rustenburg.
  • Miners -- South Africa -- Rustenburg -- Interviews.
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