Constitutional Hill

Some thoughts on the Marikana massacre

On Thursday at least 36 miners were killed by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in an ongoing labour dispute (apparently between rival Unions and between the Unions and management) at Lonmin’s Marikana mine. By the time Police opened fire on striking miners with automatic weapons, the dispute at the mine had already been dragging on for several days. Ten people (including two Police officers) had been killed before the massacre occurred on Thursday. This means that almost 50 people have been killed in the past few days in this dispute.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has announced that it will investigate the killings and “will seek to establish if the police action  was proportional to the threat posed by the miners”. President Zuma has now also announced that he will appoint a Commission of Enquiry. Any investigation worth the time and effort will have to determine why the trouble started, why our government was so slow to respond appropriately to the crisis and why Police with automatic weapons were deployed to a volatile area and why they seemed so desperate to disperse the strikers.

But I am not sure that any investigation — no matter how thorough and impartial — will get to the bottom of these events and will provide us with some of the broader insights into why this happened and what it means for our country. This is because there are many lenses through which one could view the massacre and the events that led up to it and, depending through which ideological lenses one looked, one might well come to entirely different conclusions.

One might view the events through the eyes of a fearful, middle class, law and order, union basher and conclude that this was all the fault of the miners, who were armed with pangas and knives and threatened the lives of the Police Officers. On my Twitter timeline some people even suggested outrageously that the miners deserved to die and that they were taught a good lesson.

In my opinion this view is entirely without merit. First, it prejudges the issue. At this point we simply do not know for certain if the miners were indeed threatening the lives of the Police Officers when they were killed and if so, how serious this threat was. The eNCA report below suggests that the miners who were killed might have been fleeing from tear gas when they were gunned down.

But, second, even if this is not correct, the members of Police would seldom be legally entitled by either the common law or by section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act to shoot indiscriminately into a crowd with their automatic weapons. As the Constitutional Court reminded us in the case of Ex Parte Minister of Safety and Security and Others v Walters: “[g]reater restriction on the use of lethal force may be one of the consequences of the establishment of a constitutional State which respects every person’s right to life”.

Police Officers are entitled to defend themselves and even to shoot and kill criminal suspects if they directly threaten the lives of anyone. However, a Police Officer may not shoot at anyone unless he or she believes and have reasonable grounds for believing that the suspects poses an immediate threat of serious bodily harm to anyone. Even then, as the Court stated in Walters, where force is necessary, only the least degree of force reasonably necessary to carry out the arrest or protect the lives of others may be used. The force used must be proportional to the threat posed.

In this case two questions will arise, namely: (i) was it reasonable for the Police to believe that their lives were in imminent danger and that they would be killed or seriously injured if they did not open fire; and (ii) did they use the minimum degree of force necessary to ward of the perceived threat. I would be surprised if a court were to find that the seemingly indiscriminate firing of automatic weapons into a crowd (who apparently was not armed with heavy weapons) by supposedly well trained Police Officers would ever constitute the minimum force necessary to ward of a perceived threat.

The situation would be different if the Police Officers had come under consistent fire from semi-automatic or automatic weapons from the crowd in which case they would have been entitled to use all reasonable force to defend themselves. Given that the crowd was not armed with heavy weapons, and given that 36 people were left dead by Police fire, I cannot see how one could say that the force used was reasonable or how it was proportionate to any danger posed by the miners.

I am not suggesting that the Police had no right to protect themselves against imminent attack. Neither am I saying that it will always be unlawful to shoot at protesters with live ammunition or even to kill a protestor in the process. But when 36 people are shot dead in a situation like this, it is difficult to conclude that the force use was reasonable in the circumstances. To hold otherwise would be to give the Police a blank cheque to shoot and kill as many citizens as they wish, if they can claim that they believed their lives were being threatened. Next stop Syria.

One might, of course, also view the events through a political lens. As Nic Borain has pointed out in a must read analysis, the events might well be viewed through the prism of Mangaung. There is militant and growing opposition to the hegemony of National Union of Mineworkers (Num) in certain sectors of the mining industry. Num – an important pillar of support inside Cosatu for Jacob Zuma’s re-election at Mangaung – has drifted towards representing white-collar workers. Now Num has successfully been portrayed as a sweetheart union, increasingly concerned with white-collar workers, and increasingly comfortably with the benefits that come from being romanced by management. Borain argues that the public and the press is likely to understand what happened yesterday through this political prism and concludes:

  • In this narrative Jacob Zuma will be portrayed as the villain, presiding over the gradual abandonment by the ANC of the most marginalised and vulnerable citizens. When political formations inevitably emerge to give voice to those disaffected groups, policemen armed for war will be ordered to use all necessary force to defend the support base of the incumbent political elite.
  • Expect anxiety about the breakdown of the political and social mechanisms that have traditionally allowed our society to negotiate the complicated disagreements and clashes of interest with which it is beset.
  • Finally, this incident is likely to be used against Jacob Zuma in the run-up to the political contest at Mangaung. It might not be strictly fair, but the narrative is compelling, and Zuma’s enemies and competitors will make everything they can of his vulnerability here.

There is yet another — perhaps related — dimension to the events, which have taken place at a time when the voices insisting on the need for a second transition and the need to speed up economic transformation are growing ever louder. In a recently published book, Lost in Transformation, Prof Sampie Terreblanche presents a scathing analysis of the way in which big business “bought off” the ANC during the first transition and how cosy arrangements between the new elite and the apartheid era big business have protected big business from paying its apartheid debt. One may well see these events as an illustration of what happens when the government of the day gets into bed with big business and when it abandons the most vulnerable and needy who might have voted for it in the past, all for short term commercial gain by the political elites associated with or inside the governing party.

In 1973 Conservative Party Prime Minister Edward Heath said about Lonmin that: “It is the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.” Questions will be asked about the behaviour of the Lonmin management and what it says about the attitude of big business in general to the plight of underpaid miners. Questions will also be asked about why the Police seemed to be more interested in protecting Lonmin’s profits than the lives of South African citizens. Does Lonmin donate money to any of the political parties in South Africa and if so to which ones and how much? Is Sampie Terreblanche correct when he asserts that apartheid era big business struck a deal with the governing party (a deal done far away from the limelight and outside of the constitutional negotiations) and that this agreement is contributing to the growing gap in income and opportunities between the “haves and have nots” in South Africa?

I fear that any enquiry will not be mandated (and will not have the skills) to ask and answer broader questions about how our society is structured and why so many miners, who are often paid as little as R4000 per month to do highly dangerous work, felt that neither the governing party nor the Union affiliated to it, truly represented their interests. Too many people with too much power probably have a vested interest in the status quo for these questions to be interrogated, let alone to have them answered.

  • Chris Lodewyk

    I am in total agreement with the views expressed. Maybe this tragic incident will provide the flame to light the inevitable explosives in the bomb that has been ticking for quite some time.

  • Karien

    From the footage it seems clear that the police were panicked. Once the burst stop, you can see several officers skarreling and hear many cries of ‘hold your fire’. To me it is a case of bad police reaction, and not political. A good question is why they did not use rubber bullets. The protesters might have had a gun here and there, but were mostly armed with hand-to-hand weapons.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    The lessons learned from the murder of Andries Tatane.

    Bigger, better and coming your way soon!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael Graaf

    The miners’ “unachievable” wage demands (so labelled by NUM) amount to one ounce of platinum each per month. Given that they produce so many ounces, what’s the problem?

  • StevenI

    Do a search for a UK report AThirdOfAPercent_OneSociety_29Sept2011_Final.
    It shows Farmer (Lonmin CEO) earns 201 times the UK legal minimum wage (financial year end 2010). God knows what that equates to in terms of SA legal minimum.

    For your info the SAPS were ordered not to use rubber bullets earlier this year when confronted with situations like this – a tragedy in the making.

    I cannot find one image of the incident that shows a protester actually holding a gun (spent hours and hours searching the internet).

    If they shot over there heads they would have fled. It is clear that they froze in their tracks when the shooting started.

    I also feel sympathy for the cops – they will also be severely traumatised.

    A national tragedy

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    While the nation waits for president Malema to intervene …

    Guess who sits on the Lonmin Board today?

    ANC National Disciplinary Appeals Committee Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa, no less!

  • Sibusiso

    De Vos makes a sound analysis. This cruel and cowardly police action further cheapens the value of life in South Africa. As could be expected, the controversially-appointed new Police Commissioner, perhaps looking to endear herself to the police and her political masters, backed the killings. The reality is: so many things went wrong here. The sooner the authorities own up to their share the better. Our struggle against apartheid was meant to bestow upon our nation a more human face. The wanton incompetence, corruption, brutality and general callousness among our officials betray the efforts and sacrifices that were made by all, across the world, to bring about a free South Africa. Our country deserves better than this.

  • StevenI

    I take it back – watch this Aljazeera footage showing shooting by ‘unarmed’ demonstrator

  • Eric Mphori

    Armchair critics, take your chairs. After viewing TV footage several times from all angles, you conclude that police were wrong. Police did not have that luxury. Armed people were charging towards them. They had to make split seconds decisions to protect more police death. Give police a break, there is no such scrutiny when they fall victims to criminals & hooligans.

  • haroun kola

    The Marikana Massacre will be the defining moment that this nation wakes up to the inevitable results of a government in bed with colonial big business and a the necessary realization that the police forces are trained to do its masters biddings. I hope it will also spur everyone’s awakening to the immense programming we’re all subjected to. Everything’s not alright, the trickle down effect is in fact a trickle-up, to those in the know who, and perpetuated the inequality, poverty and unemployment that the masses suffer.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Eric Mphori
    August 18, 2012 at 13:18 pm

    “Police did not have that luxury.”


    Police had lots of time to strategise, prepare, plan, protect, equip …

    In any event 50 people, fathers, sons, parents, bread-winners died.

    They died in pursuit of a better life!

  • HP

    “Having lawyers make laws is like having doctors make diseases”

    The tragic incidents between rival trade unions (and police), resulting in loss of lives are appalling and very sad, and must be blamed to a large extend on the constructors and authors of the so-called New Labour Law, namely Cheadle, Professor (Convener) & Co of the Ministerial Task Team (assisted by Wallis, SC, Gauntlett, SC and Brassey, Professor, amongst others) who in 1995 prepared the ground for such tragedies in that they “simplified” the well established registration process of a trade union by abandoning the requirement, as stipulated in the previous LRA, of sufficient representativeness of the interests, which are the particular “trades or occupations” in particular “industries”, of a trade union’s members, before it may be registered in respect of those interests and thereby obtain entitlement to take part in the official bargaining processes laid down in the LRA.

    This registration procedure might have appeared to Cheadle somewhat lengthy or tedious but it ensured that the interests represented by a registered trade union do not clash with the interests of another registered (or to be registered) trade union in a particular area. This is very simple and logical, since it prevents unnecessary competition between unions – such as is happening at present at the mines.
    Under the new LRA a trade union is registered only under a name and an address and that is all – no interests no area – nothing. Additional information in terms of section 100(a) of the 1995 LRA is incompletely supplied, if at all.
    But why was this “safety” registration requirement changed, if not solely for simplicity? What was the ulterior motive behind such change if there was such motive? The answer to this question would appear, at first, to be far-fetched and complex, but in reality is not. There was a motive and there were serious previous irregularities which needed to be considered when constructing registration provisions in a new Act. It evolved as follows:

    The registration process for employers’ organisations (EO) was equivalent to the one regarding trade unions (TU), with the exception that the interests of an EO were the “activities”, namely the “industry(ies)” of its members as opposed to the interests of a TU, which were the “trades or occupations” of its members.
    The simplification of the new registration process of TU (and EO) has been designed to bring it in line with the previous unlawful “simplification” of the registration of an industrial (now bargaining) council (IC or BC) and the publication in the Gazette of its agreements in respect of “industry(ies)”, instead of, as prescribed by the Act, in respect of an “undertaking, industry, trade or occupation”.

    But it needs to be recorded that this “simplified” registration of an IC is based on perjury and forgery of relevant definitions in the Act, in perpetuation since 1925. But, by whom and how? –
    See some of the names of the persons involved and the reasons mentioned in my comments under “HP” elsewhere in Politicsweb, under this link: (documents to show the detailed reasons are at hand)

    The basic process and structure regarding the formation and registration of an IC under the three previous Acts of 1924, 1937 and 1956 is identical with regard to the limitations of its jurisdiction and hence any IC registered under any of the three Acts, is also validly registered under the Act(s) that followed, even the 1995 LRA.

    We are therefore confronted with incorrectly registered IC’s, which under the 1995 Act are supposed to obtain legitimacy by having as parties EO and TU whose interests now cannot be established from the information contained in their (empty) registration certificates. The evidence, which would show that the IC’s were incorrectly registered in respect of the interests, namely the industry(ies) listed in the certificates of the EO which are parties to the IC has apparently disappeared or is obtainable with great difficulty. Fortunately, certified copies are at hand.
    Thus, the fraudulent plot fails, since we all know that irregularities and criminal aspects committed under the provisions of a previous Act are not cured by the introduction of modified provisions of a new Act.
    In short, the ulterior motive for the simplification of the registration processes for trade unions and employers’ organisations under the 1995 LRA is an attempt to legitimise, under the new Act, industrial (now bargaining) councils, which had been incorrectly registered under the previous Acts of (1924), 1937 and 1956.

    Maybe, it is relevant now to quote the concerns of the previous Labour Minister Tito Mboweni, expressed in Business Day on 21 October 2005 under the heading “Tito Mboweni rues ‘unintended consequences’ of his Labour Law”:
    From his vantage point as Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni looked back in apparent despair yesterday at what has become of labour law reforms he steered through as SA’s first post-apartheid labour Minister. Strongly suggesting his reforms had unintentionally become a barrier to growth, he lashed out at those responsible for implementing them.
    “The basic philosophy and intention of the labour market reforms we put in place since 1994 have to a large extent been undermined by lawyers, by the behaviour of the CCMA commissioners, by the behaviour of business and labour at the bargaining councils, and to some extent by the bureaucrats at the department of labour,” Mboweni said.

    I submit that Mr Mboweni has been used as a tool by the very persons he mentioned in the article, to help cover up, without his complicity, the irregularities committed by some of the lawyers of his task team, by Seifsa and most of the upper echelon officials in the labour department, and to mention, none of them black.
    The labour department, by the way, is still trying as per two weeks ago, to cover up this very aspect of false registration of bargaining councils by quoting in a written explanation the 1952 unlawful modification of a definition in the 1937 Act by Schreiner, Judge.

    Finally, I submit that it does not appear to me that the violence at the mines is in any way political, but it concerns the rivalry of two trade unions which feel entitled in terms of the “simplified” registration procedure for TU’s, to compete for a bigger share of the money trough, which may become very lucrative should a bargaining council with (illegal) power to impose on non-members be established.
    (Note: Also published in Politicsweb)

  • John Roberts

    The problem with you fucking South Africans is you talk, tweet, write, blog but do sweet fuckall.

    White South Africans should make their way down to Marikana by the 100’s of thousands to show their disgust and demonstrate solidarity with fellow citizens and stand arm in arm agains the fucking dumb cunts called police/The State.

    Now THAT would make a difference.

  • khosi

    It is telling that Pierre forgets to mention what Maggs has carelessly mentioned. Cyril Ramaphosa, the drafter of our much vaunted constitution and the chief architect of BEE, owns a substantial portion of Lonmin.

    In 1973, Lonmin went by the name LonRho. That is an abbreviation for London Rhodesia.

    Then one can only wonder how it came about that M Ramaphosa, a struggle icon, got mixed up with a crowd that even in 1973 was being referred to as Pierre points out “the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.”

    What could a struggle icon possible have gained to accept such a company. Even more worryingly, what did the struggle icon give up?

  • John Roberts

    The issue in any case is simple. It’s about poverty. Extreme poverty and the desperation it creates while cunts in the ANC government steal billions and live the high life at the same time as being on the very board of these conglomerates. The garbage disposal of every white south african eats better than these guys but you’ll do fuckall about it except write another comment, send another tweet or post another blog. And buy platinum jewellery and start your fancy cars which use platinum as a catalytic converter in the exhaust system.

    I never thought I’d ever agree with de Vos but I can see now that it’s the attitude and disposition of whites, especially Afrikaners, which will send this country down the drain. It’s because we’re so blissfully and purposefully unaware of the poverty in places like Marikana. For fucks sake we even have cunts in this country that will gold plate their taps rather than ever give a dime to the needy.

  • khosi

    People must also remember that, during the transitional negotiations, it is a fact of history that Mr Ramaphosa installed himself as the head of negotiations, when Mandela and Mbeki (who was the original head) were outside the country. Why was he so eager?

    Surely, black people need to start asking serious questions of Mr Ramaphosa’s role in the short-changing that black people suffered as the result of the negotiated ‘settlement’.

  • Brett Nortje

    “This is very simple and logical, since it prevents unnecessary competition between unions – such as is happening at present at the mines.”

    This is the 21st century – are unions and taxi organisations visitors from the 18th?

  • Brett Nortje

    More crap from Khosi.

    What short-changing?

    We’re tired of living with your fukkups. 18 Years of veering from one disaster to another excuse.

    Since the ANC is not happy with the modus vivendi between black and white – as reflected in threats every second day to tear it up – let us all acknowledge it was all a huge mistake and seek a two-state solution.

    The integrity of borders would have to be guaranteed by way of treaty. (Which initself is going to be a problem since we now know beyond dispute in what regard some here hold written contracts.)

    Either way, no more refugees wailing ‘Ngilambile, Baas!’

  • Brett Nortje

    John Roberts says:
    August 18, 2012 at 14:23 pm

    What “attitude and disposition of Afrikaners” would that be?

  • John Roberts

    @ Brett Nortje

    The fuckup started the day Apartheid started. But you’ll never see that will you ?

    Ever study Economics ? I guess not. We all win when everyone wins, not just some.

    Basic Economics 101 , boet, not to mention the humanitarian side even

  • John Roberts

    The attitude oand disposition of sheer arrogance and selfishness and unwillingness to share anything as well as the belief that blacks are inferior.

    It’s clear that you have no comprehension whatsoever of the massive and complex socioeceonomic disasters caused by Apartheid.

    Most Afrikaners see the solution as going back to the ways that caused these problems in the first place.

  • Brett Nortje

    John Roberts says:
    August 18, 2012 at 14:47 pm

    I’m starting to think you’re OBS posting under a nom de guerre. Don’t retreat into generalisations now, say your piece.

    I have not been coy with my opinion that the vacuous Afrikaner elite are responsible for South Africa being ugraded to Stage 6 by Genocide Watch with their BEE largesse.

    When you say “the day Apartheid started” be clear. What day was that?

  • Brett Nortje

    John Roberts says:
    August 18, 2012 at 15:06 pm

    Here’s the world’s smallest violin, just to accompany you.

    Are you talking about Apartheid circa 1948?

    Here’s a newsflash – the world is not perfect, people are not perfect.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Brett Nortje
    August 18, 2012 at 15:11 pm

    Hey G,

    “the world is not perfect, people are not perfect.”

    Blame god.

    It made WHITE people!

  • Brett Nortje

    Tell us what you think, Maggs.

    How far off is my theory that all the NUM Old Boys got together and decided to teach AMCU (leaders are ex NUM) a good lesson?

    All the silly fukkers needed to do was go through Pierre’s back blogs on the Cape Town/Cosatu case which explained beautifully what AMCU’s liability would have been.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Brett Nortje
    August 18, 2012 at 15:31 pm

    Not quite there yet, G.

    I’m still stuck on the events of some years earlier.

    Conditions on the potato farms were particularly horrific. Young children and adults were forced to dig the potatoes with their bare hands and there are many accounts of workers being beaten to death and left to die and be buried in the fields.

  • ozoneblue 6

    Eric Mphori
    August 18, 2012 at 13:18 pm

    “Armchair critics, take your chairs. After viewing TV footage several times from all angles, you conclude that police were wrong. Police did not have that luxury.”

    That is rubbish. The police went there to “end this matter”. It was therefore clearly a planned and premeditated operation.

    South African Police: ‘We are ending this strike’

    “Earlier today, before the violence at the Lonmin mine erupted, South African Police Service Provincial Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo said, “our intention is to make sure that people leave that illegal gathering area where they are and that is what we will do today.

    “And I said to you we wish we will do that still amicable, meaning we will ask them to leave. But then I don’t want to explain to you ‘if they don’t, what then?’. What I told you is today we are ending this matter.””

  • Brett Nortje

    Spent a couple of days this week driving through areas where veges were being irrigated and feedlot cattle being watered within spitting distance of mine-dumps.

    Didn’t see any workers being beaten.

    So I’m going to file that snippet of information with Pierre’s 1973 Lonmin quote – he could just as easily have quoted reports that the ‘labour unrest’ was caused by Lonmin volunteering bonusses (there is a signed two-year wage agreement) for people they seemed to feel deserved them, which NUM did not like.

  • ozoneblue 6

    John Roberts
    August 18, 2012 at 14:23 pm

    “The fuckup started the day Apartheid started. But you’ll never see that will you ?”

    Afrikaners didn’t invent apartheid you spineless, racist piece of shit – the British capitalists did. And guess who are the owners of Lonmin?

    Guess who were the victims in 1922 Rand revolt?

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    ozoneblue 6
    August 18, 2012 at 16:01 pm

    Hey OB

    “Guess who were the victims in 1922 Rand revolt?”

    Clearly it wasn’t your grandfather – there isn’t a god!

  • Maggs Naidu – (
  • Brett Nortje

    Why? Did he donate in his capacity as a NUM Old Boy?

  • Brett Nortje

    John Roberts says:
    August 18, 2012 at 14:23 pm

    I’m still waiting to hear how Afrikaners are the villain of this piece, you silly chut…

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Brett Nortje
    August 18, 2012 at 16:27 pm

    “Why? Did he donate in his capacity as a NUM Old Boy?”

    I think as a Lonmin NEW BOY!

  • StevenI

    With JMs ranting at Wonderkop how long until he’s in a car accident?

  • Brett Nortje
  • Brett Nortje
  • StevenI

    In the Beeld report they mention Implats paying R9k vs the Lonmin R4k. Lonmin should have been paying somewhere in the region of what Implats pay.

    In the news a labour broker is somewhere involved in this set up – no benefits etc.

    Is the broker pocketing the difference? (in my understanding of the law the Employer is still responsible to ensure the broker adheres to its minimum legal requirements).

  • Brett Nortje

    In a civilised state would those Lonmin workers not simply hand in their resignations and go work for Implats?

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Charl du Plessis ‏@CharlduPlessc

    #Lonmin By the time they’re old, miners tell me, rockdrillers can’t close their hand to pick up up 50 cents off the floor.

    Charl du Plessis Charl du Plessis ‏@CharlduPlessc

    Rock drillers are often forced to work in crouched positions and are usually soaked from drill water from start to finish.

    Charl du Plessis Charl du Plessis ‏@CharlduPlessc

    As a last thought, a rock driller earns between R4000 and R5000 per month to spend 5 hour shifts handling a 20kg drill

  • Brett Nortje

    Life’s hard, Maggs.

    You ought to thank the Lord every night for all your unearned privileges.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Morgan Freeman ‏@MorgonFreeman

    I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole.

  • Gwebecimele

    This too will be forgotten an stadiums will be full of cheering crowds. The biggest villians are the Madonselas, Vavi’s and others. The textbooks saga has been erased by the Marikana Massacre. Keep the eyes on the Mangaung PRize.

  • Brett Nortje

    The most sensible comment on this mess by far so far? Or, another supporter of ‘Maximum Force’?

    EDITORIAL: A failure of our society on many levels

    August 17 2012, 19:21

    IF THE chairman of platinum miner Lonmin, Roger Phillimore, was not on a plane to South Africa on Friday evening, he should be ashamed of himself.
    In the wake of easily the worst state-on-citizen violence in South Africa since we became a democracy in 1994, protesting mineworkers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine near Rustenburg have shattered the company’s share price and sharply inflated the global price of platinum. That is almost a sideshow to the nearly 50 deaths that the strike has triggered so far — 34, according to the most recent confirmed figures, in a hail of police bullets at the mine on Thursday afternoon.

    Lonmin may not be directly responsible for the violence accompanying the strike, but it has wide and deep duties that it is spectacularly failing to fulfil. It has a duty to its shareholders, to its customers, to its staff, to the mining industry in South Africa generally and, ultimately, to all South Africans.
    But it is nowhere to be seen. Its CEO, Ian Farmer, is ill in hospital. Its spokesman appears not to be available. The chairman resides in England. Is he on holiday along with the rest of Europe?

    Lonmin needs to be a part of the solution to an intractable problem at the mine. It isn’t new. The new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is slowly taking apart the venerable National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the platinum industry, mine after mine. That fact, on its own, should be enough to raise alarm bells throughout the South African body politic.

    The NUM is the thoughtful, considered heart of the union movement here. Cyril Ramaphosa and Kgalema Motlanthe, for instance, come out of it. As a union it is a powerful voice of reason in an often loud and rash movement.
    It appreciates and values private capital and strong companies. Business everywhere should be hoping the union finds a way to defend itself effectively from Amcu’s attacks.

    For the moment, though, it is being left to the police and the two competing unions to try to hold down the peace, and that’s not good enough.

    For a start, the strike is ostensibly about pay, an issue neither the police nor the unions can solve. Second, business, just for the sake of it, needs to be seen to stand up at a moment of crisis like this in South Africa and be damned well counted.

    The strike and the tragedy of Thursday will be with us for a very long time. It represented a failure of our new society on many levels, most strikingly the inability of the majority black establishment (of which the NUM and the ruling African National Congress and union umbrella Cosatu are leaders) to come to terms with the majority of black, marginalised, poor and desperate people.
    Amcu was bred around beer and fires in deepest rural Pondoland in the Transkei. Sick and tired of watching NUM officials get cars and offices at the mines they worked for, they were determined to make their own luck.

    Pondoland is a generally quiet place, but its people are deeply traditional and deeply fierce when roused. There is not going to be any stopping Amcu.

    That means a solution to the violence has to be found at a high level, and that it has to recognise, for the NUM and for Cosatu and the ANC itself, the extremely uncomfortable truth that there is a power building in the land over which they have little or no influence, and which itself has little or no respect for the powers that be.

    For President Jacob Zuma, Amcu represents an entirely new challenge.

    He made a name for himself as a conciliator in KwaZulu-Natal, but they were his “own” people. He is also a Zulu. In Amcu, he confronts a fearless group of displaced, disempowered and discontented men who owe him nothing and expect nothing from him.

    Driven by antiquated beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery, they believe in the powers of “sangomas” to make them invincible. Try reasoning with that.

    Here’s a test for Mr Zuma — we all have a real interest in him passing.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Maggs, Gwebe, Ozone

    Your intemperate observations and ANC bashing plays once again into the hands of the DA, who we know is the source of all evil in this country. Please stop and think before you pre-judge our people!

  • Siya

    Chika Onyeyani on the book “Capitalist Nigger” states “the fall of all African states after independence, is based on corruption and greed”. To me this is all a result of pure greed from our politicians. The eye is always on the prise (self enrichment), it has shifted, its no longer better life for all. We are living in times of no leadership. All the politicians have stains of this or other form of corruption.

  • ozoneblue 6

    It is always a good thing to see who is benefiting and where the monies flow.

    “The welcome is warm. Malema, the former ANC Youth League leader who recently got fired from the party, is going to say what the 2 000 striking miners want to hear. “There is something with [South African] president [Jacob] Zuma. He must step down. He never cared about you, no money, no shoes. President Zuma presided over the massacre of our people. President Zuma’s government has murdered our people,” he said.”

    Nic Borain:

    “Num has drifted towards representing white-collar workers – the traditional terrain of Solidarity and Uasa. Num is the backbone of Cosatu’s support for the ANC and that union is also a key pillar of support for Jacob Zuma’s re-election at Mangaung.”

    So what I see in there is much as the organised left wing were highjacked by radical Afrikaner nationalist workers in 1922 which resulted in the destruction of organised labour and lots of bloodshed- the Malema/Sexwale faction in the ANC are trying to pull the same stunt. I could also not help noticing the tribal Xhosa militancy that seemed to have been exploited here.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    “The acting Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Moipone Noko has withdrawn charges against six accused in the Intaka case,” provincial NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson said.

    Charges were dropped against KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni, economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, Lindelihle Mkhwanazi, Nozibele Phindela, Jabulani Thusi and Ian Blose.

    “Upon a thorough and interrogative assessment, available evidence including consultations with some key witnesses, the acting DPP in consultation with the prosecution team, felt there are no prospects of a successful prosecution, therefore these charges can not be sustained against them during trial,” Ramkisson said.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    …The tribunal found this was evidence of extremely serious misbehaviour. It showed Baraza had not learned from previous mistakes and that she was likely to continue such gross misconduct in the future. ‘In our opinion a judge who engages in lawless conduct and thereafter tries to explain it away with misleading testimony, should not continue in office.’ …

    Sounds like we have a lot to learn from the Kenyans about how to deal with those who believe themselves untouchable.”

  • Brett Nortje

    The ANC are rotten to the core, and are now casting off the veneer of civilisation, Maggs.

    NPA boss gets the boot over Amigos case
    2012-07-15 10:00

    Paddy Harper and Adriaan Basson

    KwaZulu-Natal will have a new acting prosecutions boss from tomorrow after Advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa was removed from the position by his bosses last week.

    Advocate Moipone Noko­Mashilo, who has been running the ­National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) tax unit in Durban, will take over as acting provincial director of public prosecutions tomorrow.

    Mlotshwa’s purge is directly linked to the high-profile Amigos corruption trial, which is set to go to trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the eve of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference.

    Noko-Mashilo, who previously worked at the national tax unit in Pretoria, has been based in ­KwaZulu-Natal for three years.

    City Press can reveal that ­Mlotshwa’s removal is linked to his prosecutorial decisions in the ­Amigos case, including an arrest warrant for a high-profile politician that was never executed.

    Sidelining Mlotshwa follows months of speculation around whether charges against ANC ­provincial heavyweights Mike Mabuyakhulu, the economic development MEC, and legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni would be withdrawn, and if other politicians would be added as accused.

    They have been charged along with civil servants and water ­purifier kingpin, Uraguayan businessman Gaston Savoi, for tender­rigging.

    “Mlotshwa is being dropped ­because of his refusal to withdraw the charges against Mabuyakhulu and Peggy in the Amigos case,” said an NPA source.

    Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that Mlotshwa had been sidelined over his insistence that Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni be charged.

    A leaked memorandum from the NPA head office read: “Withdraw charges (against Mabuyakhulu) … He acted on the proposal that came from (former KZN treasury head Sipho) Shabalala and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize. If the latter is not being charged, how can he be charged?”

    Mlotshwa was also told by his ­superiors that Nkonyeni’s “bribe” of R20 000 could “easily be ­explained”.

    City Press understands the legal teams of Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu have pushed the NPA either to withdraw the case against them, or charge Mkhize as well.

    There has also been speculation that Mkhize might turn state ­witness, something which he and the prosecution have repeatedly denied.

    NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said he would not respond to “pre-emptive speculation by unknown sources”.

    – City Press

  • Cicero Langa

    Spiralling downwards.

    Where are people like Albie Sachs now? Is this the strange alchemy between life and law? Perhaps we can get one of the Lonmin injured who lost an arm to write us a book, or perhaps a judgment or two. Where are the honey-tongued leftists with their poetic solutions to Africa’s problems?

    Professor, maybe you can help? Maybe you can explain why this country’s police force and all other state institutions are in complete disarray, like so many of their African counterparts. Maybe you can tell us why municipalities are bankrupt; why the country’s institutions are disintegrating? Why the bench can’t write and administrators can’t administer? Why the Chief Justice cites the bible in his judgments? Why the President dances around in leather G-string and white Nikes? Why teachers can’t teach and the police can’t police? Somewhere there must be an academic who can truthfully identify a causal link.

    Can anybody perhaps write a poem or erect a museum in remembrance of the Lonmin Massacre? Perhaps next to the Hectre Peterson Memorial or the Apartheid Museum? Perhaps next to the Mandela statute in Sandton? Perhaps, while you’re busy, you can also erect one for the Farm Massacre – it’s been stretched over a longer period of time, it is true, but it has been much more brutal.

    Is this the African way? Is this Ubuntu? Is this what you had in mind with your Constitution?

    When will the left stand up and take responsibility for their role in the disintegration? When? Who’s to blame now? Who are you going to blame now?

    The “Whites”, and their children, and it seems, their children’s children, were such easy targets. They with their rules and rigidity. They with their “common sense approaches” and their wheel, and their maths, and their rules, and their limits…

    To blame them now must be a more nuanced affair. Must it not?

  • Brett Nortje
  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Cicero Langa
    August 19, 2012 at 13:17 pm

    Pah Cicero – you’re making up stuff!

    “Why the Chief Justice cites the bible in his judgments?”

    Show one judgement in which the CJ cited the bible.

  • ozoneblue 6

    Cicero Langa
    August 19, 2012 at 13:17 pm

    “Where are people like Albie Sachs now? Is this the strange alchemy between life and law? Perhaps we can get one of the Lonmin injured who lost an arm to write us a book, or perhaps a judgment or two. Where are the honey-tongued leftists with their poetic solutions to Africa’s problems?”

    I believe us “honey-tongued leftists” are still the only ones offering a workable solution. Which is a progressive, nonracial, non-tribalist, Democratic Socialist dispensation.

    I believe Cosatu/NUM’s responsible engagement with the monopoly capital within the framework of the Constitution is the only democratic and sustainable way forward. As much as I feel for these miners who have lost their lives while obviously been manipulated by sinister self-serving nationalist forces within the ruling party, this strike was illegal and the lawlessness that accommodated it was one the tragic result.

    Lets hope that the enquiry can identify these culprits and deal with them using the full force of the law. Meantime the newly appointed Police Commissioner who has allowed the police to be abused to solve a labour dispute using unnecessary and gratuitous violence has now demonstrated why she is clearly out of her debt, she should take full responsibility and resign with immediate effect and go and run a bottle store.

  • ozoneblue 6

    “SAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told Beeld the move was meant to bring pilot demographics in line with the country’s. He told Rapport that 85 percent of SAA’s pilots were white, and, of these, 91 percent were men. ”

    To be brutally honest – I don’t give a flying fuck what “race” or gender they are, as long as they are the best qualified to fly a commercial passenger carrying aeroplane. If I had a reason to believe that the SAA are hiring inferior pilots to comply with “demographics” I will simply boycott them and fly with someone else.

  • Brett Nortje

    Jy is nie links nie jy is rigtingbefok.

    Cosatu saboteer al 18 jaar lank gewone swartmense se kans op ‘n normale lewe.

  • eagleowl


    Dear Family and Friends,
    Despite the mayhem with soldiers trying to take over our census and
    the brewing storm over our proposed draft constitution, all eyes
    turned south this week. With an estimated three million Zimbabweans
    living and working in South Africa, both legally and illegally, for
    many people our southern neighbour has become a second home. We all
    have friends, family and relations living in South Africa; we have
    their currency in our pockets and ninety percent of the food we eat is
    imported from South Africa because we still haven’t worked out how
    to grow our own food on all the government’s seized farms.

    It’s not hard for us to follow events over the border because so
    many Zimbabweans have resorted to satellite dishes and decoders
    enabling them to receive television channels from South Africa and
    Botswana. Our one and only local TV station has such poor programming
    and is so bombarded with political propaganda that most people just
    can’t stand watching it anymore.

    We could be forgiven for at first thinking that what we were seeing on
    South African news channels was happening in Zimbabwe. Situations of
    police using force, usually with baton sticks and tear gas, have
    become commonplace in Zimbabwe in the last twelve years but we
    haven’t become immune to the horror of it by any means. Appalled we
    watched South African news channels broadcasting film footage of
    scores of police opening fire on striking mine workers. The police
    were not wearing tear gas masks, were not wearing helmets and visors
    and were not holding riot shields to protect themselves. Instead live
    bullets poured out of their automatic weapons; the dust rose and a
    police member wearing a blue beret raised his arm, flinched from
    bullets flying from behind and alongside him, and with a clenched fist
    he shouted out twice: ‘Cease Fire.’ When the dust settled many
    bodies lay on the ground.

    South African news channels described a ‘media blackout’ and
    hospital ‘lock down’ that followed. No one was talking, not
    miners, not police not hospitals and not family members. It was only
    at lunch time on the following day, that the police finally held a
    press conference. Thirty four miners lay dead and seventy nine injured
    at the end of what the South African Police called ‘self defence’
    and South African media called the Marikana Massacre.

    Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot. Instead of South Africa being
    shocked and appalled about events in Zimbabwe, we looked with anguish
    and horror at what was happening there. How could this be happening in
    South Africa we asked? The most progressive, prosperous country on the
    continent. The country which boasts the most enlightened constitution
    in the world and yet police used live ammunition against striking
    miners and used it to kill.

    Since February 2000 countless ordinary South African citizens,
    churches, civic society organizations and NGO’s have been tireless
    friends of Zimbabwe. They’ve taken us in when we were on the run,
    protected us when we were scared, fed us when we were starving,
    shouted out for us when we’ve been silenced, tended our wounds when
    we’ve been beaten. They’ve sent food parcels, blankets and
    medicines and for years churches and others have continued to fill
    boxes with groceries for people in Zimbabwe. What can we say to our
    neighbours now except we are sorry, saddened and shocked. Until next
    time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 18th August 2012. Copyright �
    Cathy Buckle.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    ozoneblue 6
    August 19, 2012 at 14:28 pm

    Hey OB

    “To be brutally honest – I don’t give a flying fuck what “race” or gender they are, as long as they are …”


  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs, to be brutally honest, I don’t give a FLYING FUCK who is piloting the AIRBUS I fly on, so long as they are 89% DARKISTS!

    As for all of this talk of so called “qualifications” and “flying hours”, I am convinced this is a pretext for keeping WHITISTS in the pilot’s seat!


  • ozoneblue 6

    Maggs Naidu – (
    August 19, 2012 at 15:30 pm

    Ja sure – you be the first brave one then to fly with the new SAA “affirmative action” programme. I love my wife and kids and I don’t give a fuck what you think.

    “South Africa’s fleet of attack submarines, which cost an estimated R8-billion in the infamous arms deal, are all in dry dock after the only operational vessel crashed into the seabed.

    The SAS Queen Modjadji, named after South Africa’s rain queen who lived in Limpopo, struck the ocean floor while conducting training exercises between Port Elizabeth and Durban last week.

    The Sunday Times photographed the German-built submarine undergoing repairs in Simon’s Town this week.

    And yesterday the SA Navy acknowledged she had been damaged during a “training exercise”.

    This means that all three submarines – meant to police the oceans – are presently undergoing repairs and maintenance.

    The SAS Manthatisi, the first of the country’s submarines acquired in the multibillion-rand arms deal, has been in the dry dock since 2007 after a series of mishaps, including crashing into a quay and damaging her steering mechanism.

    Then a power cable was incorrectly plugged into her shore power-supply system, causing damage. The vessel’s propulsion batteries, which cost R35-million, are being replaced.”

  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Ozone writes:

    “you be the first brave one then to fly with the new SAA “affirmative action” programme. I love my wife and kids and I don’t give a fuck what you think.”

    With respect, this is typical of the stubborn resistance to TRANSFORMATION one encounters these days. The Catch-22 faced by many less-experienced pilots is that they cannot build up flying hours they need to earn their “wings” if they are never permitted to pilot the plane by scaredy-cat passengers. I say that we must all be prepared to endure a slightly “elevated” risk in the air if we are to progress beyond the WHITIST hegemony of the stratosphere!

  • Maggs Naidu – (


    Johannesburg – Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane will lead the judicial commission of inquiry into the shooting at Marikana that left 34 miners dead, the presidency said on Sunday.

    Other members of the inquiry are North West Premier Thandi Modise and the ministers of mineral resources Susan Shabangu, police Nathi Mthethwa, social development Bathabile Dlamini, co-operative governance Richard Baloyi, labour Mildred Oliphant, defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, health Aaron Motsoaledi, state security Siyabonga Cwele, and home affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

  • Thomas

    Prof: This massacre is a tragedy. No amount of finger pointing is going to change that. You have to understand the thinking of those involved to understand what happened in Marikana.

    Firstly while listening to SAFM the reporter on the line reported that women were being chased away from the hill top even female reporters were being barred from the area by the strikers. I said to my wife that there is going to be blood shed. I could guess this because whenever men move from their homes into the its a preparation for battle. Once women are chased away from an area. You must assume that there is a Sangoma around who is preparing the men for battle.

    Once the sangoma was brought in, I knew there was trouble brewing. The power of the sangoma was cornfirmed the day three policemen carrying R5 machine guns and pistols were attacked. Two dead and one criticaly injured. To the miners this was a sign that the reicarnation of Sigonondo was amongst them. They had the only man who could turn bullets into water on their side.

    On the police side you have police who through upbringing have been taught to believe about muti. The killings of fellow officers instilled in them fear. Fear of the muti man. If you know any black man who believes in muti he will tell you of the powers of the Mpondo “muti man”. In the minds of the police they were being sent to a certain death.

    This was a recipy for distaster. The rest is history.

  • Maggs Naidu – (


    Some media houses have mistakenly reported that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Marikana Tragedy announced by President Zuma today is the Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy. This is not the case.

  • ozoneblue 6

    August 19, 2012 at 18:21 pm

    Thomas I would also love to believe that the police were caught by an element of surprise whilst out on a peacekeeping mission.

    But what do you think Police Commissioner Mbombo meant when she said “What I told you is today we are ending this matter.”

    And why do you her honourable AA/BEE whore come bottle store entrepreneur come National “Police Commissioner” Phiyega meant when she said:

    “She said that police had earlier received information from several sources that the miners would not disperse peacefully.

    “By midday, yesterday [Thursday] we had received information from various sources that the protesters would not end the strike peacefully and they would not leave their gathering point or disarm.

    “The options were weighed and the decision taken that the SAPS needed to protect their members adjacent to the protesters,” Phiyega said.”

    And what do you think the police were expecting if you can believe the Institute for Security Studies who was quoted:

    “The fact the highly-trained national intervention team was on the scene indicated that the police had realised ordinary crowd control measures would not suffice.”

    None of the above seems to indicate that the police were “surprised” by a peaceful crowd that went violently out of control, but rather more like the police went there with a premeditated plan to do battle – to make an example of this militant, anarchist mob.

  • Brett Nortje

    Very interesting contribution, Thomas.

    So were Poloko Tau’s reports in The Star.

  • John Roberts

    Hey Ozone

    You are right. We don’t give a fuck what you think. You rotten little shill.

  • ozoneblue 6

    “Questions will also be asked about why the Police seemed to be more interested in protecting Lonmin’s profits than the lives of South African citizens. Does Lonmin donate money to any of the political parties in South Africa and if so to which ones and how much? Is Sampie Terreblanche correct when he asserts that apartheid era big business struck a deal with the governing party (a deal done far away from the limelight and outside of the constitutional negotiations) and that this agreement is contributing to the growing gap in income and opportunities between the “haves and have nots” in South Africa?”

    It is absolutely bizarre that a seemingly intelligent/informed observer of South African politics could ask such a question.


    “LONDON (Reuters) – Platinum miner Lonmin is considering a $1 billion rights issue starting as early as next month to recoup losses following the closure of its Marikana mine in South Africa where 34 workers were killed, the Sunday Times reported.
    Lonmin shareholder Xstrata had signalled it was willing to cover its part of the fundraising, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the situation.”


    “Barclays wins role in Glencore-Xstrata merger
    Last-minute lobbying by Barclays has secured it a role advising on the mega-merger of trading giant Glencore and miner Xstrata after originally being left off the advisory roster for the £54bn deal.”


    “Absa is a subsidiary of Barclays Bank – a major global financial services provider. Barclays acquired Absa on May 2005, and is today the majority shareholder with a stake of 55.5% in the Group.”

    Mangwashi Phiyega/Absa

    “Non Executive Board Member | Consultants and Actuaries | Absa Group Limited
    Gauteng | 2006 – 2009”

    So perhaps that also explains how somebody with ZERO experience in the police force can be appointed National Police Commissioner? To help her former BEE/AA bosses control the cheap yet unruly native labour force?

    And why do you think the media not picking up on this. Normally they are quite good at finding “links” between ANC “cadres” whom they don’t like (normally “left-leaning”) and using such catch phrases as one “being close to” the other because they happened to go to the same private school or university?

  • ozoneblue 6

    “Questions will also be asked about why the Police seemed to be more interested in protecting Lonmin’s profits than the lives of South African citizens. Does Lonmin donate money to any of the political parties in South Africa and if so to which ones and how much? Is Sampie Terreblanche correct when he asserts that apartheid era big business struck a deal with the governing party (a deal done far away from the limelight and outside of the constitutional negotiations) and that this agreement is contributing to the growing gap in income and opportunities between the “haves and have nots” in South Africa?”

    It is absolutely bizarre that a seemingly intelligent/informed observer of South African politics could ask such a question.


    “LONDON (Reuters) – Platinum miner Lonmin is considering a $1 billion rights issue starting as early as next month to recoup losses following the closure of its Marikana mine in South Africa where 34 workers were killed, the Sunday Times reported.
    Lonmin shareholder Xstrata had signalled it was willing to cover its part of the fundraising, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the situation.”


    “Barclays wins role in Glencore-Xstrata merger
    Last-minute lobbying by Barclays has secured it a role advising on the mega-merger of trading giant Glencore and miner Xstrata after originally being left off the advisory roster for the £54bn deal.”


    “Absa is a subsidiary of Barclays Bank – a major global financial services provider. Barclays acquired Absa on May 2005, and is today the majority shareholder with a stake of 55.5% in the Group.”

    Mangwashi Phiyega/Absa

    “Non Executive Board Member | Consultants and Actuaries | Absa Group Limited
    Gauteng | 2006 – 2009”

    So perhaps that also explains how somebody with ZERO experience in the police force can be appointed National Police Commissioner? To help her former BEE/AA bosses control the cheap yet unruly native labour force?

    And why do you think the media not picking up on this. Normally they are quite good at finding “links” between ANC “cadres” whom they don’t like (normally “left-leaning”) and using such catch phrases as one “being close to” the other because they happened to go to the same private school or university?

  • Brett Nortje

    Ja, die media is baie stil. Veral Etv – eiendom van Cosatu, en die SAUK – eiendom van die ANC.

    Bang om hulle ANC base om te krap.

    Dit het die ANC ‘n goeie paar dae gevat om hierdie vieslike magsvergryp te veroordeel, ne?

  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs, will you join me in my demand that the police henceforth be armed only with loudhailers, short sticks, and their own supply of machete-deflecting muti?


  • ozoneblue 6

    Brett Nortje
    August 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

    “Dit het die ANC ‘n goeie paar dae gevat om hierdie vieslike magsvergryp te veroordeel, ne?”

    Isn’t that a bit rich coming from you, who are on record for defending Jan Smuts gross abuse of military power (including the SA air force) against white Afrikaner miners in more or less the same scenario in 1922. Could it be that you are just as big a whore to the machinations of the global capitalist empire than the ANC that you pretend to hate so much, and that it is quite apparent that despite for your superficial protestations to the contrary, you are also a happy beneficiary in the status quo.

  • Brett Nortje

    You guys are giving me the shits with your quest for the stupid-superlative.

    If you have BBC-news on in the background you know that Lonmin is all but on its knees.

    Either watch South Africa skittle out England by lunch or lets compare how the Marikana district would have been policed the last two weeks in a civilised country with a police force that is loyal to civilised norms.

  • Brett Nortje

    Violence a relic from people’s war to make SA ungovernable
    by John Kane-Berman, August 20 2012, 06:06

    NUMEROUS types of chickens are coming home to roost in South Africa. During their long campaign to win power by making the country ungovernable via a no-holds-barred “people’s war”, the ruling alliance made up of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), injected into the bloodstream of the body politic a virus of violence that they cannot now eradicate.

    Whether to enforce strikes or bus or school boycotts, protest against “service delivery” failures, back some or other demand on campus, or complain against trains that are late, violence in South Africa has become routine, not unusual. Nonstrikers are murdered (60 of them in the security guards strike in 2006), city centres or university buildings trashed, roads blockaded or railway coaches set alight. People from other parts of Africa who undercut local traders are threatened or even murdered in so-called xenophobic violence.

    It is a tragic and bitter irony that all this is happening in a country that is second to none in constitutionally guaranteed and judicially protected democratic rights. The bitterest irony of all is how the virus of violence has corrupted parts of the trade union movement. During apartheid, when union officials were banned or detained without trial, and black unions frequently barred from factories by hostile employers, the emerging black union movement won its legal rights by a struggle that was essentially nonviolent.

    Now, with a privileged position, plus organisational and strike rights that are also second to none around the world, unions have become increasingly intolerant, as the Democratic Alliance experienced during its recent march on Cosatu House.

    Killing people in the context of inter-union rivalry at Lonmin is also a manifestation of a principle that the ruling alliance introduced during its people’s war, which was to eliminate rival political organisations as far as possible. One of the chickens that is now coming home to roost is that some of the rival factions within the ANC are now using violence — possibly even assassinations — against one another.

    Another of the chickens is the poor quality of the police. Their behaviour at Lonmin is but the most lethal manifestation of a wider lack of professional skill, including frequent inability to master the basics of crime scene investigation.

    Any intelligent leadership in the police force would have long ago foreseen the risks arising from our violent political culture. Proper training and equipment would long since have been provided to avoid precisely what happened at Lonmin. But, of course, the ANC has ensured that there is no proper leadership at the top of the police force. Instead, the police have become the plaything of rival factions in the ruling party, not to mention the victims of affirmative action and cadre deployment policies.

    So South Africa is in a catch-22. The people’s war was part of the strategy of the national democratic revolution to make the country ungovernable.

    Continued adherence to the strategy of the national democratic revolution in the form of cadre deployment in particular results in a police force that cannot handle the violence that continues as a hangover from the people’s war.

    One consequence of the ineptitude of the police is their inability to handle situations such as that at Lonmin without making things infinitely worse.

    Another is their inability to put a stop to the violence that now characterises so many demonstrations across the country. A third is their inability to secure prosecutions and convictions of violent demonstrators.

    Over all of this presides a president out of his depth as CE of the state. His ministers take unto themselves more and more power. Yet, apart from collecting taxes, his government fails increasingly to get the very basics right, top of which is providing law and order under the rule of law. His fondness for singing about his machine gun while the whole nation listens symbolises the very culture of violence that is helping to ruin this country.
    • Kane-Berman is CE of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

  • Thomas

    The guns of Marikana
    2012-08-19 10:00
    Lucas Ledwaba

    Secret rituals may have led striking miners to believe they were invincible, writes Lucas Ledwaba

    Every morning, a group of men gathered on a hill on the outskirts of Nkaneng informal settlement near the Karee mine in Wonderkop.

    There, under the instructions of a medicine man who allegedly hails from Eastern Cape, they stripped naked, stood in single file and waited for their turn to be sprinkled with herbs.

    The medicine man used a razor blade on some of the men, making small incisions on their foreheads before smearing a black, gel-like potion on them.

    These procedures, it is believed, were part of a process to prepare for battle: to make the men invincible against the enemy.

    There were stories doing the rounds that on Monday, mine security guards had tried to fire on the striking workers, only for their guns to jam as a result of the rituals conducted on the hill.

    “That man over there is unbelievable,” said a young man in Setswana, referring to the medicine man behind the rituals on the hill.

    “There are men who sleep on that hill at night. They never go back to the hostel or their homes. They say at night you can’t see anything there because that man has made the hill to be invisible at night.”

    We stood at the entrance to the Nkaneng informal settlement on Tuesday afternoon.

    A crowd had gathered there, opposite the Wonderkop stadium, to watch a huge, intimidating convoy of armoured police cars make its way into the area towards the hill where the body of a man had been found a few hours earlier.

    Police identified the man as a senior mine supervisor. Pangas were used to hack his face and head, and he was left for dead on a footpath.

    A picture taken by the police shows the man’s mangled body lying face up, one eye wide in death, and a cow’s skull on his chest.

    People, including children walking from school, walked past the man’s body throughout most of Tuesday.

    The strikers apparently sought the services of the medicine man to prepare for battle against any and all enemies: foremost their employer Lonmin, the third-biggest platinum producer in the world; what they termed “hit men” from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM); and, it seems, against anyone else they deemed a hindrance to their goal of a monthly salary of R12 500.

    It is not clear how and when the decision to go on strike was taken, but last Friday, more than 3 000 rock drillers – the men who earn just R4 000 a month digging for platinum underground for eight hours every working day – downed their tools.

    By late Monday, two mine security guards, two police officers and four mine workers who apparently refused to join the strike had been hacked to death with pangas, stabbed with spears, shot and – in the case of the two security guards – their bodies set alight.

    Three of the striking miners were killed as police dispersed the armed strikers, who had managed to infiltrate operational areas and intimidate workers.

    The battle lines were drawn. It was now a case of being either with or against the armed men.

    There were already thousands gathered on and around the hill when we arrived in Wonderkop, a settlement near the town of Marikana, on Tuesday afternoon.

    There seemed to be a hierarchy of some sort in the sitting arrangement.

    The seemingly more militant group that numbered a few hundred sat at the bottom of the hill, flanked by thousands of others on the hill to their right and thousands more to their left.

    The militant group, under the command of a tall, dark man draped in a green cape, looked like disciplined warriors.

    They were armed with pangas, spears, clubs and sharpened steel rods, and were clearly in control of proceedings.

    We learnt that there were strict rules governing this gathering: no hats, no jewellery, no mobile phones, no cameras and, above all, strictly no women.

    And the workers were warned not to be seen to be speaking to strangers (meaning the media), which explained the stoic silence and nasty looks from some of the men walking to the hill when approached for interviews.

    An elderly man walking past the informal settlement of Nkaneng towards the hill said in a hushed tone that he was merely joining the group because if he did not do so he could be harmed.

    “This is the life here. There is no other way. A man must think about his children,” he said.

    Police had warned journalists that the strikers were hostile, armed and dangerous.

    So when a group of us approached the hill on Tuesday afternoon, we were met by a man in a green cape who signalled for us to stop a distance away and walked calmly towards us.

    He spoke in a calm but firm voice, demanding to know our intentions and emphasising that the group was “not fighting anyone” – they were merely fighting for their rights.

    As we spoke, a younger man who looked to be on a high of some sort charged at us, demanding to know why we were there.

    The man in the green cape, who seemed to occupy a position of authority, calmed him down and he walked away.

    A deal was made that three volunteers would be made available for interviews, which were carried out in full view of the thousands gathered there, with the strikers speaking through a loudspeaker.

    All three men were from Eastern Cape and spoke in a combination of isiXhosa and Fanakalo.

    They made it clear it was R12 500 a month or nothing.

    By midday on Thursday, it was becoming clear that the strikers were not going to leave the hill after numerous attempts by police and union officials from both the Association of Mineworkers and Constructution Union (Amcu) and the NUM to negotiate a truce.

    Amcu was at least given an ear by the strikers, but NUM officials were heckled away and forced to retreat.
    It was becoming clear, too, that the gathering was not going to end peacefully.

    “If they want to kill us they may as well do so,” said a man addressing the strikers as more police reinforcements arrived on the scene.

    “But if these men kill us, they must know that in this life someone in their family will also wear a mourning dress at some stage,” said another, as it became even clearer that a peaceful solution was becoming a distant dream.

    “No one is going to die for someone else. We will only leave this hill if we get R12 500. Management must come and talk to us, then we will go underground,” said the man to loud applause, with some rising to do impromptu war dances, brandishing weapons.

    “We must not be afraid of death because everyone who works underground is as good as dead. The mine is
    just a grave that can bury you at any time.

    “It’s not Amcu or NUM that said we shouldn’t go to work – it’s us, the workers, not the unions, so they are not going to tell us what to do. We want money, that’s all.”

    Marikana Shooting

    – City Press

  • Paul Kearney

    Another angle on the massacre:

    Eish mags – what have potato farms got to do with it? Trying to deflect attention from some of the cops that may have been from your “hold me back or I’ll kill him” idea of policing?

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Paul Kearney
    August 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm


    “Eish mags – what have potato farms got to do with it?”

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that you did not get it, PK!

    Maybe the “Judicial Commission of Enquiry” will tell us.

  • Jason Bosch

    I think you were a bit quick to dismiss the fact that the miners were carrying weapons. It’s obviously not a justification for the killing but they should not be carrying weapons around like that at a demonstration. There is a disturbingly violent culture in South Africa that needs to be addressed. When people strike with all sorts of weapons we should call them out for that. We don’t go too long without hearing about a new strike or riot where there is some sort of violence and that’s not likely to stop if people continue to think it’s okay to bring weapons to demonstrations. We need to find more constructive ways of dealing with problems.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Paul Kearney
    August 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    The impact manifests, PK, in the minds of the likes of Dominic Tweedie.

    Dominic Tweedie of the Communist University, Johannesburg, commented “This was no massacre, this was a battle. The police used their weapons in exactly the way they were supposed to. That’s what they have them for. The people they shot didn’t look like workers to me. We should be happy. The police were admirable.”

  • ozoneblue 6

    Interesting also that even RW cannot recall 1922 anymore. Using Sharpeville as an example but Sharpeville had absolutely nothing to do with class war and a militant labour dispute. I have to wonder then why this selective amnesia again, 1922 being a much more dramatic, significant and historically relevant event?

    “Despite or perhaps because of the centrality of this event in labour history, interpretations of the nature of the strike and the response of the labour movement towards it have undergone a sea-change. Through the 1920s and 1930s, at least, most members of the Communist Party averred that this was an outstanding example of the struggle between the ruling class and the workers, even though there were racist aspects that were deplorable. The Trotskyists did not dissent. The Spark, organ of the Workers Party of South Africa, carried an article on the strike, in November 1935, in which it described the struggle as one between classes, and commemorated the strike as one of the great events in working class history. Edward Roux, in his biography of S.P. Bunting, and one of the pioneer young communists who demanded that the party organize Africans in the early 1920s, was more critical of the communist position in 1922. Yet he also took the position that, wrong as some of the party had been, they had been correct in supporting the strike.

    This interpretation was altered after the Second World War when the Communist Party dropped talk of class struggle and made the ‘national’ struggle its priority. The strike was then found to be only racist and therefore reactionary. Smuts’s onslaught, the bombing of working class positions, the arrests and trials of thousands of strikers and the crippling of the trade union movement was removed from historical memory. The event was far more complex than a black or white account would suggest and merits a reinvestigation, returning to the views of those who were involved at the time.”

  • Zoo Keeper

    What a mess.

    Two unions are in a fight over membership. The unspoken truth of unions is that they do their best work by violence. Violence is feature of how unions get their members to toe the line.

    In the week leading up to this mess 10 people were murdered, including two cops. The murders were inter-union rivalry, hacking and burning people. Now, suddenly, the self-same workers are now “noble” and driven to desperation.

    I can see how low wages (and I agree the wage is too low0 can make one desperate. But these guys were camped on the hill with as many weapons as they could carry and having muti-rituals.

    When the cops fired teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades the workers kept coming, because they were invincible. They had threatened to kill the police and that is what they were going to do. I don’t believe for a second they were trying to escape the teargas.

    Those miners attacked the police lines and would have hacked as many to death as they could gotten their hands on.

    I am a strident critic of excessive force from police, but considering the shooting lasted less than 30 seconds (one magazine’s worth) I would say the police were justified and the workers and unions are responsible. Lonmin is not responsible for their deaths, just for paying them badly.

    To compare this Sharpeville etc is also just madness. This was an attack on a fully armed line of police, not a protest (Tatane).

    They’re dead and their loved ones are mourning. Its sad, but it was avoidable, and the ones to do the avoiding are the dead and wounded.

    If responsibility needs to be allocated for the deaths it is to the participants of the charge on the police line.

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs Naidu – ( says:
    August 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    What? Are you saying communists are no longer the intellectuals of the Alliance?

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Zoo Keeper
    August 20, 2012 at 13:03 pm

    Hey ZooKy,

    “But these guys were camped on the hill with as many weapons as they could carry and having muti-rituals.”


    Like the Nedbank guy used to say “Makes you think, doesn’t it!”

    Seems like the authorities were incapable of or disinterested in diffusing that.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Brett Nortje
    August 20, 2012 at 15:11 pm

    Hey G,

    “What? Are you saying communists are no longer the intellectuals of the Alliance?”

    I’m certainly not confident that as many intellectuals as there were not so long ago, are in the SACP.

    Those who are are not as vocal as they ought to be.

  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs, as you well know, most of our intellectuals have decamped to Brett’s tiny but heavily respected party, the ACDP.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    August 20, 2012 at 15:29 pm

    Eish Dworky,

    “Brett’s tiny but heavily respected party”

    You ought to know that size does not matter, Dworky.

    Except to the wife of the “large-as-life” Graeme Smith.

    Or Khanyi Mbau tinying Theunis.

    In Brett’s ACDP’s case, “tiny” is not a word which I would lightly. Neither is “respected” 😛

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, Dworky seems puzzled by the flight of the intelligentsia to the ACDP.

    Acquaint him with the time-honoured Afrikaans proverb ‘Soort soek soort’…

  • Brett Nortje

    Lonmin RDOs paid R10 500 a month (exc. bonuses) – Solidarity
    Gideon du Plessis
    20 August 2012

    Union questions whether labour dispute the sole cause of Marikana violence

    Labour dispute not only cause of Lonmin violence – Solidarity

    The trade union Solidarity today said that the violent protests at Lonmin’s Marikana mine was not only due to a wage dispute between rock drill operators and their employer. In the interim, Solidarity has made suggestions to the commission of enquiry who are investigating the tragedy at Lonmin.

    According to Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of Solidarity, a large number of the nearly 3 000 protesters were retrenched workers of Lonmin and Impala Platinum (Implats), colleagues of rock drill operators in other work categories and unemployed members of the community. “It is clear that many of the protesting workers were not aggrieved rock drill operators, but that opportunists exploited the strike. This resulted in crime. There is a misconception that the dispute mainly revolves around underpaid rock drill operators who reportedly only earn R4 000 a month.

    The adjusted total cost package of a Lonmin rock drill operator is approximately R10 500 a month, excluding bonuses. In addition, the rock drill operators and their representative union, Amcu, did not submit written demands nor declare a wage dispute, which is the norm in a process of collective bargaining. The protestors’ violent behaviour, the brutal murders of innocent people and the use of witch doctors and traditional murder weapons rather indicate a political motivation and opportunistic positioning instead of an attempt to negotiate a solution,” said Du Plessis.

    Solidarity has also made the following recommendations to the commission of inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma to determine what led to the Lonmin tragedy:

    · The commission must determine which institutions or individuals are responsible for inciting employees to violence and supplying them with weapons.

    · The trade union Amcu’s pattern of violence must also be investigated by the commission. In the past year Amcu has been involved in various strikes that resulted in violence including Lonmin, Implats, Aquarius’s Kwezi shaft at Kroondal and its Everest mine near Lydenburg.

    · According to Solidarity, the commission should also investigate the murders committed before Thursday’s tragedy.

    Due to the explosive situation, Solidarity asked Lonmin to investigate individual cases with the police rather than dismissing workers since many of the workers were intimidated. “Lonmin must be supported in order to prevent the anarchy that lately prevailed at Lonmin spilling over to other mines,” said Du Plessis.

    Statement issued by Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of Solidarity, August 20 2012

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    Brett Nortje
    August 20, 2012 at 15:56 pm

    Hey G,

    “Dworky seems puzzled by the flight of the intelligentsia to the ACDP.”

    As he should be!

    Totaling huge numbers, there are, er, umm, eish …NONE!

  • Paul Kearney

    If ever there was a time when Solidarity should shut up, it’s now. The last thing they need is to sound like the NUM and SACP rolled into one.

  • HP

    @ Paul Kerney
    More Seifsa-type “busybody” interference !?

    We understand that Solidary is a trade union whose membership consists mainly of employees who are employed on trades or occupations concerning administrative and managerial positions in all sorts of industries.
    It is very doubtful that Solidarity represents rock-drillers or any other employee employed on related trades or occupations by Lonmin or by anybody else in the mining industry or that it even has a single member who is such a rock-driller.
    As such, Solidarity is an outsider and has no legal standing whatsoever to interfere with public comments or any other action regarding the wages and other working conditions of the members of AMCU or NUM or any other trade union which has negotiated or is negotiating with the employers (eg Lonmin) on behalf of their members .
    Matters are not improved by Solidarity’s interference with data they might have obtained second-hand or are heresy. We hope that Solidarity is not just trying to score advertising benefits for attracting more members and thereby becoming an illegal “busybody” like Seifsa.

    As stated elsewhere in Politicsweb the lines between the registered interests of the two competing trade unions cannot be clearly drawn anymore by the Registrar of Labour Relations, because the regulation laws were changed.

    This is due to the fact that Cheadle, Gauntlett, Wallis, Brassey & Co have made use of their privileged position on the Ministerial Task Team of Tito Mboweni in 1995 to convert the irregularities committed by themselves and/or which they allowed others to commit (under their supervision) into the New Labour Law, in perpetuation of the unlawful modification of definitions in the previous Acts made by Judge Schreiner and others.

    It is suggested that the LRA 1995 (at present still based on irregularities) be reviewed urgently with regard to a corrected (previous) registration procedure for trade unions and employers’ organizations and the resulting correction of the jurisdictional limitation of bargaining councils and their agreements, and thereby freeing non-members (non-parties) from exploitation and interference of these irregular private councils.

    See also the link and related link and the comments by “HP”:

  • caroza

    “With respect, this is typical of the stubborn resistance to TRANSFORMATION one encounters these days. The Catch-22 faced by many less-experienced pilots is that they cannot build up flying hours they need to earn their “wings” if they are never permitted to pilot the plane by scaredy-cat passengers. I say that we must all be prepared to endure a slightly “elevated” risk in the air if we are to progress beyond the WHITIST hegemony of the stratosphere!”

    Are you serious or is this your attempt at a joke? With respect, speaking as the daughter of an RAF Pilot Examiner and the niece of a fighter pilot, this is ignorant crap. You don’t get to fly the plane AT ALL until you have your wings, i.e. your basic qualifications. Then you get to fly as 2nd pilot for several years, i.e. co-pilots get their hours by flying in the right-hand seat under the direction of an experienced captain, who will let them do the bulk of the flying in most cases.

    Pilots go through medical exams, flying ratings, and instrument ratings, as well as theory re-testing, every year. Because if they make a mistake, people die. For anyone who can make the grade, the path to being a 1st pilot is clear and established and has everything to do with ability and diddly-squat to do with politics. For anyone who can’t, the path is equally clear; you fail a flying rating, you’re out of a job.

    If that means that the path to transformation is a little slower in jobs which require extreme skill and demand great responsibility, like performing heart surgery, or flying a passenger jet with 400 innocent souls on board, that is absolutely 100% fine. We’ll get there. There’s a black pilot in the Silver Falcons, and they can fly, boetie. Hats off to him. Hats off to every commercial black pilot, and there are some excellent ones. But let them earn it the way every other pilot has to. Anything less is paternalistic, racist, life-endangering garbage. There are areas where we can do a lot more about speeding up transformation; this isn’t one of them.

    As for the subject under discussion, I can only agree with Pierre – what were those cops doing out there armed with automatic weapons? This was a massacre, one of the root causes is the militarisation of the police, and the only way it will ever have any meaning is if it brings about a much-needed change in government, and some real attention to the appalling poverty and inequity in this country. I don’t care if that comes from the left, the right or frigging little green men from Mars. It’s clear that it won’t come from the ANC.

    (Stephenl, I watched that Al-Jazeera video. At about 0.20 the cop in the left of frame was firing – you can see the recoil – and the guy with the handgun didn’t fire until after that and it looked to me as though he fired straight up, although it wasn’t very clear. Unless I’ve missed something).

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Caroza

    “If that means that the path to transformation is a little slower in jobs which require extreme skill and demand great responsibility, like performing heart surgery, or flying a passenger jet with 400 innocent souls on board, that is absolutely 100% fine.”

    Maggs, it seems we have another conflator of “excellence” and WHITISHNESS on our hands. Please deal with him. I lack the energy.


  • caroza

    Mickey. I’m a her.

    And are you seriously going to suggest that whites haven’t benefitted from a much better education in the past, and that they are therefore over-represented in professions where excellence is really important, as well as in other areas?

    My point is that where lives depend on it, let’s allow excellence to remain the criterion regardless of the colour of the person displaying it, and where the job is a little less critical, we can loosen our standards a bit in the interests of faster transformation and opening up opportunities.

    (And perhaps we could also fight for a government which pays a little more attention to education, so that those opportunities to excel start opening up.)

    I think all those knee-jerk assumptions are tiring you out, poor thing.

  • Brett Nortje

    Bwahahaha! More principledness on the no-such-thing-as-an atheist-in-the-trenches continuum.

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    August 21, 2012 at 18:18 pm

    Hey Caroza,

    You seem to have “misunderestimated” Dworky, or as you prefer Mickey (sometimes he can even be a bit of a Dickey).

    Nevermind, more about that later.

    You say “If that means that the path to transformation is a little slower in jobs which require extreme skill and demand great responsibility, like performing heart surgery, or flying a passenger jet with 400 innocent souls on board …”.

    Sounds pretty rigourous and impressive.

    What if … those 400 souls were not so innocent , like say if all our nation MPs were to be on that plane?

    p.s. she, he, other – we’re gender insensitive hereabouts!

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Ms Caroza, Maggs is right.

    If you had attended to this website a while back, he brought to our attention that, beyond a certain minimum threshold of competency, flying an aeroplane is largely a matter of intuition and common sense. Pierre, for his part, has taught us to be suspicious of the liberal notion of “excellence.” That concept presents itself as an “objective” standard, when, in truth, it is Eurocentric fiction, purpose-built to entrench what we on this blog call “WHITISM.”

    If you have any questions, both Maggs and Pierre will be happy to help you.

  • caroza

    And you, Maggs and Pierre are all experienced pilots and qualified to comment, are you? First of all you’re assuming that your suspicion of the notion of excellence invalidates it completely – I don’t think it does, although I think a lot of it does derive from an assumption of cultural superiority.

    Secondly, you’re assuming that I don’t agree with you about Eurocentricity. Actually I do – it’s a culture which has achieved enormous technological success and therefore assumes itself to be both innately superior and the arbiter of standards for everyone else – a form of mental colonialism, if you like. As they say, we don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish. It’s difficult to see those assumptions when you’re part of it. Some of us do try though.

    The piece that gets left out of this (and which I think is the kicker here) is the distinction between the arts and the sciences. My education is in the latter (with a smattering of the former), and yes, there is a high degree of objectivity in science, although it’s by no means perfect. The technological transformation of the world over the last 200 years or so is the visible result of that objectivity. Science is not merely another form of cultural myth. (Whether a world driven by technology is a better world is a different argument, and although I’m not a Luddite, I’m not sure I have an answer to that one).

    (Behavioural) science is capable of measuring expertise and understanding the factors that produce it, particularly in something like an advanced motor skill such as flying an aeroplane. That’s not going to go away because you think it’s politically incorrect. The way we value that skill may be arguable, the way we develop it – less so.

    So questioning excellence as an absolute value, and the attitude that accepts it as a value, is fine; assuming that it is entirely “Eurocentric fiction” is stretching it.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Caroza

    As I mentioned above, I can take this argument little further, being but the humble pupil of Pierre and Maggs on the question of the relative, and culturally constructed, conception of “excellence,” and how it is used as legitimation for RACISM. We can only await their intervention.


  • caroza

    Yes, I think I may be able to predict some of the, er, forthcoming education. If my standards are supposedly “objective” and my culture gets to set them, then I get to decide whether you meet them or not, and therefore whether you are “good enough” or not, and voila, we have racism. Fair enough. (I’m using “your” and “mine” in the generic sense here).

    And my culture could have been using its analytical leanings to address social problems and tackle poverty instead of inventing (basically useless and polluting) flying metal tubes which you can put people in and hurtle them across the globe at high speed. Also fair enough – there’s a value system inherent in appreciating something like flight and putting effort into it.

    And currently we live in a globalised world in which my highly technologised culture dominates, for better or worse (probably worse if you follow climate science), which means that your interaction with the rest of the world is dominated by my rules. You (as a culture) don’t have the opportunity to create a world which meets your aspirations in the way my culture did, because we’ve already grabbed all the goodies and done it our way. Also, fair enough.

    (Believe it or not, being female and moderately intelligent teaches you quite a lot about isms.)

    And with all that, if you want to learn to fly an aeroplane without killing everybody on board, is it such an appalling notion to insist that you do it properly? Does that have to be construed as racism? And if you insist on construing it like that, how on earth are you supposed to separate it from its entire context and history so that it isn’t, in any way, racist?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Caroza

    “if you want to learn to fly an aeroplane without killing everybody on board, is it such an appalling notion to insist that you do it properly?”

    With respect, you are setting up a straw person here. We all agree that the plane must be flown “properly.” The point of AA has always been that the applicant/employees must meet the minimum threshold of competence, viz, the basic ability to do the job. The problem comes when people like you insist that any given candidate must meet some mythic standard of “excellence,” have flown X number of hours in training, have achieved the very top marks in flying school, etc. Speaking personally, I would rather risk crashing in a ball of flame at the end of a runway than fly forever on UNTRANSFORMED aircraft!


  • caroza

    I think you’re the one setting up the straw man. I have no issue with AA – I think we need to do more and not less. You’re saying that I’m setting up a “mythic” standard of excellence wrt flying. No, actually, everything I’ve said about flying (a family occupation) is how it works – minimum hours, extremely rigorous testing and retesting, medicals etc is what it takes to fly properly. That’s because it’s potentially very dangerous. So the “minimum threshold” of competence you refer to is actually a very high standard in this particular industry, and for very good reasons. All I’ve said is, you meet the standard or you don’t fly. (And then you bust a gut to remove all the other obstacles like poverty, lack of education etc, so that you don’t institutionalise exclusion, and you accept that you might not get perfect demographics overnight). You’re the one making up myths based on your false and uninformed assumptions about flying as an occupation and your complete and utter disregard for other people’s lives and safety.

    You might be perfectly happy to end up in a ball of flame at the end of the runway in your glorious quest for perfect and instantaneous transformation; it’s a little callous and condescending toward everyone else on board, don’t you think? Perhaps you should consider asking the other passengers how they feel about it first – they might prefer to live and transform (in their chosen careers) another day. This is ideology gone mad and it’s why the left (in which I include myself) ends up with a bad name and a reputation for lunacy. I think I’ll stay unreconstructed in your view, if you don’t mind.

  • Brett Nortje

    Can we get back to the discussion about the Marikana massacre?


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  • Stewart

    Yup – the pundits can analyse all this till hell freezes over looking for deeper meanings and motivations – all irrelevant.

    For days, these miners were looking for a fight – they found it, big time!

    Whilst the tactical command and control of the SAPS is clearly useless (they shot in panic – no order given) shooting with lethal ammo was necessary, as the cops were about to be charged by the ‘bullet-proof’ strikers. If they had waited for the order, just seconds away, would that order have been given in time to avoid one-on-one hand to hand fights? We will never know, so the shots from massed rifles, although in panic, got the job done anyway.

    We may well have been debating the tragic deaths of 30+ SAPS members hacked to bits by the mob and puzzling over how come they did not use their own weapons effectively and timeously.

    No need for any enquiry at all – the cops did what had to be done.

    Time now to fire the Minister of Police and demand total retraining of all SAPS members.

  • jeff

    I dont know what planet some of you guys are on. The police were under attach by an armed mob that had already murdered two policemen, what do you think they should have done, stood there and be murdered themselves. Rubber bullets would have been a better answer, but to blame the police for protecting themselves is really rich

  • khensi

    both the cops and the mob where on the wrong firstly illegal striking then secondly dangerous weapons and the refusal to disperse, the cops had to fire rubber bullets but if the mob kept attacking the cops were once to aim for the head remember Bheki Cele? and shoot to kill is what the cops did to protect themselves ,on the other side i feel sorry for the families of the deceased for loosing their members of the family. let this be a lesson for in future if something like this has to happen then hopeful the solution won’t be to kill our families, and the thing that upset me most a person working for a platinum mine still earning R4000 its a disgrace sorry while the mine gets lots of billions because their work no i am really sorry but this is bull.

  • mlungisi

    Hi Prof,

    Whilst I understand your well written piece I however do no agree with you with one aspect which you were not aware off or intentionally overlooked. Video footage that is readily available showed that some members of the crowed were armed with fire arms. Some of the fire arms are those that were taken from two of my colleagues that were brutally killed.

    Secondly, I would like to bring your attention to what the public gathering Act says about the carrying of dangerous weapons.

    Thirdly, if you view the footage very well, you will observe that the 50 metres line (as required) was observed by the police and advised the crowed not to advance, regardless the crowed ignored this order and charged towards the police (bare in mind that some in the crowed were armed with fire arms), according to your piece, what would have constituted proportional force in such a situation? Were you expecting the police to fire rubber bullets at people carrying and firing live rounds? were you expecting the police to use a water canon while the crowed charged towards them with fire arms and panga’s?

    I agree not all who died were carrying fire arms, but how do you expect the police to single out those with fire arms at a crowd of hundreds charging towards them?

  • lshmael Malale

    The death of so many people in a manner reminiscent of the historical police brutality will naturally yield profound sadness and emotion. The rhetoric ladden piece by De Vos only further demonstrates that rational jurisprudential engagement is obviously slaughtered at the altar of political expediency. The police did not shoot at illegal strikers in wonderkop. The footage attest to warriors that descended towards the police with pistols, iron rods, spears, pangas, axes sparingly charging at the police. Passing the water brigade, rubber bullet platoon and finally squaerring up with the final line of the special unit, armed with semi automatic R4 Rifles.

    This was the battle of wonderkop, between armed warriors of marikana and the police. The events of the so called marikana massacre cannot be narrated without contextualising the series of incidents leading to the final battle. The fact that innocent miners uninspired by the unlawful strike were killed in cold blood,including the police, demonstrates that on the fateful day, the police were confronted with murderous public violence.

    Crowd control is a measure for an unarmed peaceful protest. Public violence is a crime classified as serious to warrant the invocation of section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act as amended. The media snippets I viewed proved that protection of life and property required police aaction. The proportionality of the police responds is arguable.

    No single person may profess exclusive clarity of the required response. This is a value judgment to be exercised by the police on duty in a spir of the moment. Of course swivel chair intellectualistic reflection may arrive at a different conclusion with the advantage of hindsight.

  • lshmael Malale

    Can we look at caseload?

  • Pingback: Marikana – ways of seeing « Nic Borain()

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    lshmael Malale
    August 23, 2012 at 22:35 pm

    Hey Ishmael,

    You make some interesting observations.

    – “The police did not shoot at illegal strikers in wonderkop.” By Implication then it seems to suggest that since these were “illegal” strikers, it was ok to kill them????

    “The footage attest to warriors that descended towards the police with pistols, iron rods, spears, pangas, axes sparingly charging at the police. Passing the water brigade, rubber bullet platoon and finally squaerring up with the final line of the special unit, armed with semi automatic R4 Rifles.”

    Sounds like utter nonsense to me. As best as I could make out the people were armed with “traditional weapons”, not uncommon in our country at many gatherings. When they ran, as it seems to have been the case, away from the teargas, water cannon …, what should they have done with their prized possessions?

    Anyway, your being presumptuous with your conclusions. Surely the full version of events leading to the massacre will emerge during the commission of enquiry.

    The “footage” as I saw including Al Jazeera, does not support what you are suggesting. The was a clip of one fellow with a handgun firing two bullets in the direction of the police who ought to have been sufficiently protected as this was supposedly the “elite squad”.

    If what you are saying is correct, then what the heck was Zuma doing by suggesting to the miners that “I have heard you. I have heard your demands for R12500 per month. I will take this to Lonmin”?????

    Was he, as he so often does, talking shit?

    Or was he perhaps suggesting that there is merit in their demands?

    The miners at Aurora who have been treated in the most abysmal way by friends and family of the rich, powerful and famous have been using the reasonable, rational, peaceful, lawful approach – where the fuck did that get them????????????

  • Maggs Naidu – (

    lshmael Malale
    August 23, 2012 at 22:35 pm

    Hey Ishmael,

    “The rhetoric ladden piece by De Vos only further demonstrates that rational jurisprudential engagement is obviously slaughtered at the altar of political expediency.”

    Here’s a real example of “political expediency”.

    What the heck is parliament doing???

    At this rate it will become entirely useless in its oversight role!

    Our MPs should hang their heads in shame – our president looks them all in the face and blatantly lies, knowing that parliament knows full well that he is bullshitting and that it is powerless to do anything about this.

    Former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli operated without security clearance for more than a year, according to a parliamentary reply released today. …

    Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard, who posed the question, said the reply beggered President Jacob Zuma’s assurance earlier this year that there was no cause for alarm about the state of the police’s crime intelligence unit.

  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele

    How many police were injured by these “armed warriors”on the day of the massacre?
    Can we safely say SAPS rubber bullets do not work on mine workers armed with pangas, knobkerries and two guns ?

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  • HP

    I am commenting on Labour Minister Oliphant’s reported claim made during the voting on the 2013 LRA Amendment Bill on 20 June 2013, namely that:

    “…labour unrest in the mining sector should not be blamed on the law, but on the conduct of mining houses”, and that:

    “It is because the companies themselves have negotiated with committees not recognised by the laws of this country”.

    Her claim is based on law which has been constructed on forgeries of statutes engineered by, amongst others, remnants of senior officials in her Department under the previous LRA’s, which, most probably, she is not aware of.

    It would appear that she is just parroting the convoluted ideas of her departmental director of labour relations (I Macun) who still today makes use of a forged definition unlawfully constructed by judge Schreiner in 1952 in conjunction with other known and documented forgeries of statutes in order to justify certain false and unworkable provisions in the 1995 LRA.

    That Lonmin negotiated with AMCU is only natural since that union (not NUM) represented rock-drillers and would thereby have chosen the correct negotiation forum anyway.

    Well, below are my submissions on the recent labour unrest in the platinum mining industry (not “sector” – why? – more deliberations will follow about this mind-bender later).

    The reason for the toxic relationship between the competing unions NUM and AMCU boils down to the use of forged definitions of the previous LRA’s dragged as valid ones into the 1995 LRA.

    These forged provisions (statutes) as introduced into the new Act obliged the draft Bill’s task team, which was assisted by senior advocates Cheadle, Gauntlett, Brassey and Wallis – who themselves were actively involved in the engineering and promotion of these irregularities – to design and adopt, amongst other, new provisions concerning the registration of trade unions (and employers’ organisations) by the Registrar in Pretoria.

    Under the pretext to make registration of these organisations under the new Act easier or less onerous the task team and its assisting kinder-garden of labour “expert advocates” devised a registration procedure, the end result of which was a registration certificate devoid of any precise information as to the individual “interests”, namely the “trades or occupations” of their members in the case of trade unions and the “industries” of their members in the case of employers’ organisations.

    Now, it is submitted that the purpose of such “empty” and incomplete new registration procedure was not only to make registration easier but to hide from public view the fact that the interests contained previously in the certificates of employers’ organisations (which could be parties to an industrial council) were identical to the newly invented “sector” (industry) in respect of which industrial councils had illegally been registered under the previous Acts.

    Anybody would have been able to identify such fraud simply by comparing the identical information of the two different types of certificates, contravening the established principles of freedom of association contained in the LRA’s.

    With regard to trade unions this incomplete registration (only a name and address – no interests) gave rise to the extreme competition for the right to be a recognised representative unions (under the new Act) between AMCU and NUM.

    Under the previous provisions AMCU would have been registered in respect of “rock-drillers “ and maybe another trade or occupation – provided that the union had been found by the Registrar to be sufficiently representative in the area of its stated interests.

    Under the same constraints, NUM on the other hand would have been registered in respect of several other trades or occupations – again provided that it is sufficiently representative of those interests in the area.

    With these correct registration certificates in place each union could not have interfered with each other and each would have had to negotiate with Lonmin separately and come to maybe different terms – most probably justified seen in light of the more difficult work done by rock-drillers compared to other occupations now represented by NUM.

    In the result I submit again (done already several times in this forum and others) that the irregularities committed by senior officials in the Department of Labour in cohorts with senior members of the legal fraternity, senior academics at UCT (Benjamin, Godfrey, Cheadle) and big business (Angus, SEIFSA) leads to the root of the tragedy of Marikana.

    Some 44 persons had to die before the authorities woke up and tried to find the truth.

    It should be said that in this instance the Minister of Labour is most probably not involved but her senior officials in collective bargaining (i.e. I Macun) are, as was already hinted at by our previous Labour Minister, Tito Mboweni, in Business Day in 2005 when he complained about the “behaviour of the bureaucrats in the Department of Labour”.

    Finally, I hope that judge Farlam will become aware of these discrepancies and will investigate accordingly.