The murder fields of Marikana
It is becoming clear to this reporter that heavily armed police hunted down and killed the miners in cold blood. A minority were killed in the filmed event where police claim they acted in self-defence. The rest was murder on a massive scale.
(...) “Tsepo said many people had been killed at the small koppie and it had never been covered (by the media). He agreed to take us to the small koppie, because that is where many, many people died,” Mmope said.
After the shooting began, Tsepo said, he was among many who ran towards the small koppie. As the police chased them, someone among them said, “Let us lie down, comrades, they will not shoot us then.”
(...) It took several days for police to release the number of those killed. The number 34 surprised most of us. With only about a dozen bodies recorded by the media, where exactly had the remaining miners been killed, and how did they die?
Most journalists and others did not interrogate this properly. The violence of the deaths we could see, again and again, was enough to contend with. The police certainly did not mention what happened outside of the view of the cameras.
The toll of 112 mineworkers (34 dead and 78 wounded) at Marikana is one of those few bitter moments in our bloody history that has been captured by the unblinking eye of the lens. Several lenses, in fact, and from various viewpoints.
This has allowed the actions and reactions of both the strikers and the police to be scrutinised in ways that undocumented tragedies can never be. Therefore, while the motives and rationale of both parties will never be completely clear, their deeds are quite apparent.
Thus developed a dominant narrative within the public discourse. The facts have been fed by the police, various state entities and by the media that the strikers provoked their own deaths by charging and shooting at the forces of law and order. Indeed, the various images and footage can be read to support this claim.
The contrary view is that the striking miners were trying to escape police rubber bullets and tear gas when they ran at the heavily armed police task team (our version of SWAT). The result was the horrific images of a dozen or so men gunned down in a fusillade of automatic fire.
It is possible to interpret what happened in the filmed events as an over-reaction by the police to a threat. What happened afterwards, 400 metres away at Small Koppie, is quite different. That police armoured vehicles drove over prostrate miners cannot be described as self-defence or as any kind of public order policing.