ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Marikana Massacre

Does the killing of 34 striking miners by police suggest that South Africa may be returning to being a police state?

On 16 August 500 heavily armed South African policemen fired on and killed 34 striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine of the British company Lonmin. This has been the single largest killing of protestors in South Africa after the end of apartheid and has drawn immediate and shocked comparisons with the infamous Sharpsville and Soweto massacres.

Lonmin is the world’s third largest producer of platinum which is a critical material in catalytic convertors of cars and is also used in jewellery. An ounce of this precious metal sells for $1,440 in the international markets but the rock-drill workers who were on strike earn about $500 a month. They were on strike demanding a threefold rise in pay and other facilities. As news and research reports suggest, South Africa’s miners have seen very little of the prosperity which has come to only a few sections of the black population since the abolition of apartheid. They still live in shanty towns in dusty outbacks near the mines, with living and working conditions reminding journalists of 1980s South Africa.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top