From the August 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard
In August last year miners at the Marikana Mine in South Africa were on strike for higher wages. The striking miners were confronted by the South African police, who fired on the miners, using live rounds from automatic pistols, shotguns and assault rifles. 34 miners were killed and 78 seriously injured and many miners were shot in the back and whilst lying on the ground. The South African state even considered charging 270 arrested miners with the Apartheid-era ‘common purpose’ murder of the miners massacred by the police.
The global capitalist class in alliance with the pro-capitalist ANC government of South Africa have shown the working class that going on strike, demanding higher wages involves the risk of death. British capitalists have a major role in the Marikana miners’ massacre. The Marikana mine is owned by Lonmin, formerly the mining division of Lonhro once run by the notorious ‘Tiny’ Rowland. Even Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1973 referred to the activities of Rowland and Lonhro as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’.
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers has failed to fight for its members which has led to the creation of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) which represents the Marikana strikers.
A Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign is demanding the creation of an international enquiry into the massacre, the sacking of the Minister for Police and the Commissioner for Police, charging responsible senior police officers with murder, the release of all imprisoned miners and the dropping of all charges against miners. It also calls for compensation for the families of those killed and injured, the Chief Exec of Lonmin to be put on trial for ‘theft of national resources’, and the end to police violence (tear gas and rubber bullets) against ‘those who produce all the country’s wealth’ (the working class).
There is a weekly picket outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square every Thursday from 5-7pm.