Marikana “massacre” in perspective
August 19, 2012 in South Africa
For the sake of sanity, it is necessary to put the so-called “massacre” at Marikana (Lonmin Mine). In perspective. In times of such crises, it is expected of the Media to give perspective and to calm down emotions. However, this principle applies worldwide, except in South Africa. Therefore, from an independent citizen, here are some perspectives.
First, it is the same Media who wrongfully dubbed the happenings there as a massacre. Please note: ‘A “massacre” is an event where many people are killed indiscriminately. A massacre is a slaughter of many people in the same type of religious group or race.’ The police did not kill any striker or mine worker indiscriminately. They opened fire within the ambit of their duties. The strikers were unruly, threatening and already turned to violence and killings.
Secondly, it was (is) an illegal strike, but whether it was legal or illegal, what ‘law-abiding’ worker of any country, will arm themselves with dangerous weapons like here? They were armed with pangas, knives, machetes and other dangerous instruments. They had therefore a pre-determined agenda to kill or injure other people.
Thirdly, the same Media who is now crying foul, was criticizing the same ‘holier than thou’ strikers for reverting to violence and destruction of property and the authorities for not taking control or action. And when the authorities indeed took control and action legally, they cry ‘massacre’!
In the fourth place, the happenings at the mine, is a watershed in the labour relations history of South Africa; or it should be. It is the same Media who is crying ‘massacre’, who recently, before this event warned labour in South Africa that there was (is) a definite tendency for strikes and marches to turn more violent and destructive than ever before. This is true, now a days strikes or marches are aimed at mass disruption and destruction. Workers have the right to strike, this is embodied in our constitution, but they do not have the right, or the right to strike does not give them the right to assault, kill and destruct property. In addition, what about the right of other citizens or even other workers who exercise the right not to strike. The right to strike means to put down tools, go home and wait for your union leaders to negotiate with the employer and then after a satisfactory agreement is reached, informed their constituency and they all come back and work! If the workers do not follow this principle, but choose for disruption, destruction, maiming, and killing, they or the Media should not cry ‘foul’ or ‘massacre’.
In the fifth place, it brings me to the union leaders themselves. They should stop to further their own political agendas and start putting the interest of their constituencies first. Recently, Cosatu made a public announcement that their followers are frustrated and they (Cosatu) cannot be held responsible if strikes or marches turn violent. What message do such ignorant utterances convey to the masses? Then dear Cosatu, you do not call a strike or march until your people are educated!
In the sixth place, the Media should not compare apples with pears. Now they make a big issue and comparison with Apartheid and the Sharpeville incident. But, fortunately, now I can also give perspective on the Sharpeville and Soweto incidents of 1976. In both these cases the police, just as now with the mine incident, was within the borders of their duties and responsibilities.
In the seventh place, what is the difference between the incident at the mine and an incident where a group of thugs, armed with dangerous weapons try to rob a bank or armoured cash transit van and the police kill the perpetrators? The only difference is that in the latter case the Media hails the police as super heroes. And, before I forget, in the case of the bank robbers the bank does not pledge to look after the children of the killed robbers! Or, nor did the SABC started with a fund to assist widows of killed robbers.
In conclusion, the mineworkers, armed with dangerous weapons, embarked on a road of killing, maiming, assaulting and destruction of property, and infringing of the rights of other law-abiding citizens. The police just did what they are paid for! And the strikers just got what they deserved and asked for!