Marikana massacre makes world headlines

The scene at Marikana, near Rustenburg, yesterday

The bloodbath that claimed the lives of over 30 people in Marikana in the North West has made international headlines.

The Guardian, New York Times, Sky News, Denver Post, BBC, Washington Post, CNN, and several other media reported on the massacre.

Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, put up a detailed one-page entry on it with references to local newspapers and reporters.

On Thursday, police opened fire with live ammunition on armed, striking workers who had gathered on a hill in the area.

Ten people, among them police and security guards, had already died since the start of their protest a week ago.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union over recognition agreements at the mine.

Workers also wanted higher wages. They claimed to be earning R4000 a month, while those living outside the hostel were earning an extra R1000. Reported demands included pay of R12,500 a month.

On Friday, the NUM said the death toll in the shooting had risen to 36.

People around the world were using the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to share their views on who they believed were to blame for the bloodbath.

Some believed the police were accountable and asked why live ammunition had been used. Others shifted blame to the company for not giving in to the demands of poorly-paid workers.

The Guardian reported that the shooting had led to a drop in the company’s share price.

It said Lonmin’s shares dropped almost five percent in London and four percent in Johannesburg.

Lonmin executives said all its shafts across the South African platinum belt, which account for 12 percent of global supply, were closed to all but essential services, such as ventilation.

Although the price of platinum had fallen steeply in the past six months, the spot price rose two percent on Tuesday in the wake of the violence, it said.

Lonmin executive vice-president Barnard Mokwena was quoted as saying: “Until the place is safe we don’t want to talk about production.”

South Africa accounts for about three-quarters of the world’s platinum, which is used to make catalytic converters in cars.

London-based Lonmin told the Guardian that 96 percent of its production comes from Marikana. – Sapa