Many of us remember the old days when the police vans were yellow and were manned by white men engaged in a racially-motivated campaign to dominate, control and oppress the majority racial group in this country. It was a dark time in this country’s history and one which we hoped was firmly in the past when Nelson Mandela’s release from prison inspired a non-violent and hopeful revolution, transforming South Africa into a multi-racial and multi-cultural nation. Back in the mid to late 1990s there was a lot of talk about a Rainbow Nation. We haven’t heard that talk for a while and, instead, South Africa has returned to a group mindset focused on our differences, rather than our common interests and humanity.
Rather than moving away from a split and unequal society towards a united nation, the borders between us have just been redrawn and cloaked with rhetoric, Struggle jargon and over-used words like “transformation”, “redistribution” and notions of persistent white control. It’s mostly bullshit designed to keep the uninformed voting population firmly in the pockets of whoever is keen to retain control over the country’s political and economic future but it works so we have a government that under-delivers, over-promises and keeps pointing to the modern equivalent of the old “Swart Gevaar” (or however the old National Party government referred to the spooky threats lurking in the darkness of the old South Africa).
The violence at Marikana is another reminder than we are far from the society Mandela’s ANC envisaged and the nation we hoped for almost 20 years ago. It is a reminder that the more some things change, the more they stay the same. It is a reminder that the current regime has forgotten what it fought for and that the pigs have just moved into the farmhouse. The Daily Maverick has an article today which reveals how the police at Marikana didn’t just fire in self-defence, some of the SAPS’ members cornered protesting miners away from the media at the scene and murdered them:
Some of the miners killed in the 16 August massacre at Marikana appear to have been shot at close range or crushed by police vehicles. They were not caught in a fusillade of gunfire from police defending themselves, as the official account would have it. GREG MARINOVICH spent two weeks trying to understand what really happened. What he found was profoundly disturbing.
Of the 34 miners killed at Marikana, no more than a dozen of the dead were captured in news footage shot at the scene. The majority of those who died, according to surviving strikers and researchers, were killed beyond the view of cameras at a nondescript collection of boulders some 300 metres behind Wonderkop.
After all this time, we really haven’t come very far at all. Sure, the miners were belligerent and the photos I have seen show the miners were armed with an assortment of weapons. I wouldn’t have wanted to be standing there facing them but there is a difference between containing a violent confrontation and hunting the protestors down and shooting them as they flee. That is what the old SAPD did under a National Party government. That is what we saw in a virtual police state. This is what this country is becoming.
Image credit: Apartheid – A Crime Against Humanity by United Nations Photo, licensed CC BY NC ND 2.0