One of the strikers told the Johannesburg Star (5 September): “People were shot for fun while down on their knees with their hands up in the air and begging for their lives.” The gut-wrenching footage of South African cops using high-calibre assault rifles to gun down striking miners armed with little more than homemade wooden spears evoked the 1879 slaughter at Ulundi carried out by British colonial forces, who mowed down similarly armed Zulu warriors by the hundreds using Gatling guns, an early type of machine gun.
Mining has powered the South African economy from the late 19th century under British colonial empire-builder Cecil Rhodes up through the apartheid Afrikaner regime installed in the 1940s to today, under neo-apartheid capitalist rule.
In South Africa and internationally, anger over the Lonmin killings was redoubled when the courts invoked a law from the white-supremacist apartheid era to charge 270 arrested strikers with the murder of their comrades by the police. But miners continued to defy these misleaders and the capitalist government they are beholden to.
Feeling the heat, the government provisionally withdrew the murder charges. On 29 August, 12,000 workers at Gold Fields’ KDC mine downed tools and demanded the rescinding of deductions from their wages as well as the resignation of the local NUM leadership.
Lonmin massacre: ANC-led government has blood on its hands Miners win bitter strike in South Africa SEPTEMBER 18 — The leaders of South Africa’s Tripartite Alliance government, led by the African National Congress (ANC), no doubt figured that the 16 August massacre of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine would break the workers’ resolve. The 3000 rock drill operators, organised mainly by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), remained on strike for another month, defying intimidation by the company and repression by the state.
One striker told CNN that the brutally exploited workers would hold out in their demand for a pay increase to honour their 34 slain comrades, “otherwise they will have died in vain”.
In Spartacist South Africa no 7 (Winter 2011), our comrades called for “smashing the parasitic labour-broker middlemen through class-struggle means”.
Marxists give no political support to any of the politicians of the capitalist ANC, regardless of their particular policies.
Malema, who heads four companies, sports Gucci suits and has a penchant for luxury cars, has nevertheless gained a lot of popularity by calling for nationalisation of the mines.
Seizing the mine shafts, machinery and mountains of finance capital — now mainly in London, New York and other banking centres — that the mining bosses have heaped up through more than a century of superexploitation of mainly black labour will be a necessary step in liberation from capitalist oppression.
The following statement was issued by Spartacist South Africa on 23 August, titled: “The Lonmin Massacre: ANC/SACP/ COSATU Tripartite Alliance Government’s Hands Covered in Blood of Striking Black Mineworkers.” August 16, 2012 will go down in history for one of the bloodiest crimes ever committed against the workers movement in South Africa.
In neo-apartheid South Africa, there is massive anger at the base of society.