Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre of their lives.
For families of the 34 victims, 16 August is deeply engraved on their memory as the darkest day.
The date serves as a reminder of South Africa’s police brutality, even under democracy.
It all began on 9 August 2012, when members of the then little-known Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, led by its president Joseph Mathunjwa, went on strike.
The chilling event caught the world’s attention and led to strained relations between government and the people of Marikana.
Every year thousands of Amcu faithful gather at Wonderkop koppie, where the killing took place, to remember their fallen heroes.
Eighteen Amcu members are facing different charges, including murder, for crimes committed during the strike in 2012.
AS IT HAPPENED
- On 9 August, Lonmin mineworkers go on strike, demanding a basic salary of R12 500.
- On 10 August, mineworkers who go to work report incidents of intimidation and assault. Two are shot and injured.
- On 11 August, faction fights take place between NUM and Amcu members. Three more employees are shot in separate incidents at the hostels.
- On 12 August, five workers are shot and taken to hospital, while others are assaulted. Two mine security officers are hacked to death by protesters and their vehicles torched. Striking workers get into production areas, assaulting three people on duty and killing one. They go on to set fire to six motor vehicles at the plant.
- On 13 August, the bodies of three mine workers are found. SAPS members are attacked while escorting the protesters. Two cops are hacked to death and one seriously wounded, while three protesters are fatally wounded during the police response to the attack.
- On 15 August, police and striking mineworkers try to negotiate for peace on the hill which has become the miners’ gathering point, near the mine.
- On 16 August, the mineworkers gather at the hill. They have been issued with an ultimatum by Lonmin: go back to work or face dismissal. By the end of the day, cops have killed 34 miners and injured 78.
- On 17 August, national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega confirms the deaths, adding that 259 miners have been arrested.