The third anniversary of the Marikana massacre came and went on August 16.
The massacre, one of the worst atrocities committed by the South African police against civilians since Apartheid, has been extensively documented through the Farlam Commission that followed and documented the lives of the families of the deceased miners since 2012.
In contrast, it appears the events of Marikana are quickly fading from the memory of the student community at Wits University, one of South Africa’s top tertiary institutions.
Wits Vuvuzela spoke to a number of students on campus about their recollection of the massacre, their thoughts about the Farlam Commission and whether they commemorated the anniversary in any way.
What do you know about Marikana?
“Marikana is the human rights violation, the killing of the miners that happened in North-West,” said Boniswa Mdangi, 2nd year BA Social Work.
“I just know the strikes and the killings that happened a year ago or a year and a half ago, whenever it was,” said Michael Sithole, 3rd year Accounting.
“Absolutely nothing. This is definately the first time I have heard about it,” said Didi Allie, 1st year BA Fine Arts.
“I know there was a shooting between miners and the police and things got a bit ugly, some people died,” said Wandile Mgwenya 3rd year Accounting Sciences.
“Marikana is in the North-West where we have a platinum mine called Lonmin. I know about the massacre that happened there,” said Lutendo Mulaudzi, 1st year Mining Engineering.
“I know that Marikana was a very gruesome event that shook South Africa. I know a lot of people failed to take accountability. I know a lot of miners died,” said Lindelwa Didiza, 3rd year Bcom Accounting.
“I know it has to do with mining and it’s been going on for a long time. There’s a lot of politics around it. I’m not 100% sure what it’s regarding,” said Nthabi Maine, 1st year BA Film and TV.
“I know Marikana is a mine in Rustenburg where there was a strike and people got killed during that strike by the police,” said Mthetheleli, 3rd year BCom Accounting.
“Miners were rioting for higher wages and it’s all around the police reaction because they started shooting,” said Nicky Patchitt, 1st year Film and TV.
“There was a strike because miners were unhappy about conditions on the mines and pay. And the strike ended in miners being shot by police,” said Lunga Mputa, 3rd year Economics and Finance.
What did you do to commemorate the 3rd anniversary on the 16th August?
“No, but we were planning to do something about it since we have the Marikana killing as part of our assignments for human rights, social work,” said BA Nomasonto Bore, 2nd year BA Social Work.
“I kind of feel there’s other things we could have celebrated and gone back to, just simple protestings and shootings like, in Apartheid era, the Soweto strikes and people that were shot there, that’s old news now and now they’re worried about miners?” said Daniel Jean van der Merwe, 2nd year BSc Archeology and Anatomy.
“No, I’m very aware of what happened at Marikana and the stuff that happened but I didn’t do anything, in my heart I’m not satisfied with what they giving them, I’d like for them to get more than what they are getting [referring to a statue he saw being build near the site]. Rembering is good but people want more than that,” said Philani Ntuli, 3rd year Business Management.
Why is Marikana important?
“This Marikana issue has shown us that it’s not always a race issue, it’s also a class issue and power struggle … It’s not always a race issue, even our own black people can oppress us,” said Thato Mokoena, 2nd year BA Social Work.
What is the Farlam Commission?
“I think I’ve heard about that but I don’t know what it actually is,” said Nicky Patchitt, 1st year Film and TV.
“It’s a commission that was set up to enquire what happened at Marikana. The results were talking about questioning the authority of the SAPS (South African Police Force), if they were experienced enough to be in power,” said Lutendo Mulaudzi, 1st year Mining engineering.
“Some people that were set up to enquire about the whole thing, that’s all I know,” said Wandile Mgwenya, 3rd year Accounting Sciences.
“Not much except that it never really addressed the problem or come up with any solutions. What I know nothing really happened for the miners, which I think is unfair,” said Lunga Mputa, 3rd year Bcom Economics.
The Marikana reality
Despite media coverage, the lives of miners and their families have not changed, as explored in a recent article in the Daily Maverick. “Marikana looks the same”, the article states. Living conditions of the miners and their families have not improved significantly despite government and Lonmin mines promising to build better housing, improve infrastructure and provide support for families affected by the massacre.