Khadija Patel: The Unexamined Massacre of the Marikana Miners

tags: Guardian (UK), South Africa, massacres, Marikana, miners



Khadija Patel is a journalist and columnist with The Daily Maverick, an online publication based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Fifty three years to the day of the Sharpeville massacre, when police gunned down 69 people outside a police station south of Johannesburg, it's a national holiday in South Africa. Like other countries, we have successfully confined the horrors of our past to museums and national holidays. Few complain about a day off. But the brutality, mindless violence, injustice and oppression that catalysed into the Sharpeville massacre is still echoed in the experience of South Africans to this day.

When the police gunned down 34 miners in Marikana last August, opposition politicians, analysts and commentators likened the shootings to the Sharpeville massacre. State officials however bristle at such a comparison. They argue it was not a massacre at all, that it was a tragedy pitting violent workers against the police, leaving the police with no other option but to shoot. Police commissioner Victoria Piyega is currently under cross-examination from the Farlam commission into the Marikana massacre. She argues police were acting in self-defence. She points out that two police officers were killed ahead of the police opening fire on workers....




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