South African police fatally shoot 34 miners and wound at least 78 more during an industrial dispute near Rustenburg.
Controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back and many victims were shot far from police lines.
Dubbed as the Marikana massacre, it is the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960, and the end of the apartheid era. It’s been compared to Sharpeville massacre in 1960. The incident also took place on the 25-year anniversary of a nationwide South African miners’ strike.
The Marikana miners’ strike or Lonmin strike was a wildcat strike at a mine owned by Lonmin in the Marikana area, close to Rustenburg, South Africa in 2012.
The event garnered international attention following a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security, the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and strikers themselves which has resulted in the deaths of 44 people, the majority of whom were striking mineworkers killed on August 16th.
At least 78 additional workers were also injured. The total number of injuries during the strike remains unknown.
In addition to the Lonmin strikers, there has been a wave of wildcat strikes across the South African mining sector.
The first incidents of violence were reported to have started on August 11th, after NUM leaders opened fire on NUM members who were on strike. Initial reports indicated that it was widely believed that two strikers died that day however it later turned out that two strikers has been seriously wounded, but not killed, in the shooting by NUM members. This violence was followed by the death of another eight strikers, police and security personnel who were killed in the next three days.
On September 18th, a mediator announced a resolution to the conflict, stating the striking miners had accepted a 22% pay rise, a one-off payment of 2,000 rand and would return to work September 20th. The Strike is considered a seminal event in modern South African history, and was followed by similar strikes at other mines across South Africa, events which have collectively made 2012 the most protest filled year in the country since the end of apartheid.