South Africa’s 2012 Miners Massacre


Miners Shot Down

By Rehand Desai (2014)

Film Review

Miners Shot Down follows the Marikana Commission of Inquiry investigation into the government massacre of striking platinum miners in August 2012. Thanks to the public investigation, filmmakers gained access to secret police files and footage that totally demolishes their claim that they fired at the miners in self-defense. In total 112 miners were shot. Thirty-four of them died.

The documentary paints an extremely ugly picture of the worsening economic apartheid which followed the end of political apartheid in 1994. Prior to their 2012 strike, miners at the Lonmin platinum mine lived in abject poverty, earning an average wage of 5,000 South African rand ($US 500) a week. The 2012 strike was a wildcat strike, owing to the refusal of the corrupt Nation Union of Miners (NUM) to support miners’ demand for higher wages.

Eyewitness testimony and documentary and forensic evidence presented to the Marikana Commission leave no doubt whatsoever that orders to fire on the miners came from the highest level of government.

Among the more damning evidence is the decision by the Commissioner of Police to supply police with four mortuary vans, in addition to 4,000 rounds of ammunition. Police footage shows them ordering protesting strikers to disperse, boxing them in with razor wire and armored vehicles, demanding journalists leave and shooting down fleeing miners.

Eyewitnesses report the police repeatedly shot strikers as they were surrendering.

Following the massacre the strike lasted another four weeks, and Lonmin miners eventually won pay increases of 7-22%. The Marikana massacre prompted 100,000 miners to undertake wildcat strikes across Africa.

The Marikana Commission report, issued in June 2015, largely exonerates key government figures implicated in the massacre, and victims families plan to the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

270 miners have been charged with murder based on events at Marikana. No police officers have been charged.


2 thoughts on “South Africa’s 2012 Miners Massacre

    • Well, the police claimed they shot the miners in self-defense until some of their video footage was leaked. You get the impression from the film that the present ANC government is pretty corrupt – that all they cared about was preventing the strike from spreading to other minds. And it would appear the media only reports what the government wants them to.


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