The Marikana Massacre: Watershed in the history of post-apartheid South Africa?

Policy Study

09/10/2014

On 16th August 2012 police opened fire at striking workers of the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa killing 36 miners. Autopsies later revealed that most of them had been shot in the back. Violence surrounding this strike cost the lives of 44 persons. 270 arrested workers were charged with murder under a “common purpose” clause dating back to apartheid times, meaning whoever is engaged in an illegal action is responsible for whatever follows out of this action. The charge was later withdrawn due to the protest of a disbelieving South African public.

The mines are not only the most important economic sector for South Africa but what happens there has always been an indicator for the political state of the country. This article by Arnold Wehmhoerner, FEPS Correspondent for Southern Africa, analyses the political landscape in light of the recent industrial strife in the mining sector. It looks at intra-union and intra-ANC politics and asks whether the political order to which South Africa has become accustomed is now in peril.

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