Seven years ago today, 34 miners were gunned down by police and justice is still not yet on the horizon.
Today is the seventh year anniversary of the Marikana Massacre which took place at Lonmin Mine. Situated in South Africa's North West province, workers at the mine downed their tools and embarked on protests where they demanded that their salaries be increased. In the week leading up to the tragic day of August 16th, there were numerous attempts by trade unions such as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to bring an end to the clashes between the mineworkers and the police. Their attempts were in vain. Thirty-four miners were gunned down by police and several others injured in what was the worst loss of human life at the hands of the police since the Apartheid era.
There are a number of reasons why the Marikana Massacre has remained a wound in the hearts of many South Africans. Internationally-acclaimed South African filmmaker, Rehad Desai, produced the poignant and Emmy award-winning documentary, Miners Shot Down, two years after the massacre and the details revealed within the documentary were telling.
There was tremendous suspicion that the police had attempted to conceal the true events of that day. What's worse, there was actual footage that went against what the then National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, had reported. As Desai's documentary pointed out, it was unclear why the protesting miners, who were stationed on a large boulder and were not occupying any mine property or blocking any roads, were gunned down in the first place. The documentary also revealed that on the day, the police had ordered 4000 rounds of live ammunition and four vans from the mortuary. In addition, following the massacre, ambulances were reportedly barred access to any of the miners for an hour.
If that were not enough, President Cyril Ramaphosa, sat on the non-executive board of Lonmin Mine and allegedly sent damning emails the day before the massacre.
Although evidence pointing towards the crime scene having been tampered with and miners in hiding having been sought out and murdered, justice has still not been delivered for many of the families affected.
The Marikana Massacre remains to this day, one the darkest times in South Africa's fledgling democracy.
Watch the trailer to Miners Shot Down below.
Miners Shot Down - Cinema Trailer youtu.be