Mine Strike In South Africa Turns Violent, 34 Killed

On the afternoon of 16 August 2012, the South African Police Service opened fire on a group of strikers at a platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, killing 34 people. At least 78 others were wounded.

Police approach fallen bodies at Marikuna platinum mine in South Africa on 16 August 2012

Police approach fallen bodies at Marikuna platinum mine in South Africa on 16 August 2012.

The shootings were the most deadly use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the 1960 Sharpeville massacre during the apartheid era.

Violence had apparently been brewing for days at the mine site. Two police officers and several miners had already been filled prior to the shootings.

Mineworkers in South Africa’s platinum mines have been growing more restless as the price metal skyrocketed. Pay for their difficult and dangerous jobs hasn’t increased in 20 years.

First Protests At Mine

In a wildcat strike, approximately 3,000 mineworkers walked off the job at the Marikana platinum mine. The mine is operated by Lonmin at Nkaneng near Rustenburg, South Africa, on 10 August 2102.

Rock drillers at the mine reportedly began the strike seeking a pay raise to 12,500 South African rand per month, which amounted to tripling of their monthly salaries from about $500 USD to $1,500.

The strike occurred against a backdrop of trouble between the African National Congress-connected National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

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