Sep 3, 2012
Two weeks after 34 striking miners were shot dead by the South African police, the miners themselves were charged under an old apartheid law with “murder.” Yes, 270 of the striking miners were charged with murder of their fellow miners, even though official autopsies proved the miners were shot in the back by the police.
The ANC government, using terror, was attempting to break the strike. But contrary to what the government expected, the threats and charges seemed to have strengthened the miners’ determined opposition.
The strike that had begun in a platinum mine on August 10 spread to other platinum mines and then spread to other minerals like gold. One miner told a reporter “People have died already so we have nothing more to lose.... We are going to continue fighting for what we believe is a legitimate fight for living wages. We would rather die like our comrades than back down.” A different miner said, “It’s better to die than to work for that shit.... I am not going to stop striking. We are going to protest until we get what we want.... Police can try and kill us but we won’t move.”
Former and present ANC government leaders made little headway in trying to convince miners to go back to work. As of August 31, almost all the original platinum miners were still on strike and a quarter of the Gold Field miners had joined them.
“South Africa is a social, political and economic disaster waiting to happen,” said one commentator. Even the minister of justice said the murder charges were probably a mistake, causing “shock, panic and confusion” among the population. He undoubtedly remembers the important role the miners played in bringing down the apartheid regime.
The miners will have a few more surprises for the pro-capitalist government of the “new” South Africa.