On the 16th August 2012, South African Police fired live ammunition at striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, killing 34 and injuring 78. Many were shot at close range while trying to surrender. Some strikers were shot in the head or in the back. The Marikana miners were taking part in an unprotected strike for better wages, demanding a tripling of their salary to R12,500 (£950) per month.
After the massacre, President Jacob Zuma said that this is not the time to point fingers. Instead he set up a commission of inquiry that would look into the causes of the massacre.
In the following days, 270 of the Marikana strikers were arrested and charged with the murder of their colleagues under the Common Purpose doctrine, a law last used under Apartheid. They were released on bail after public pressure forced the National Prosecuting Authority to provisionally drop the charges.
To date not one police officer or official has been charged for the massacre at Marikana. Yet some of the miners still face the prospect of long prison sentences as the State intends to blame the miners themselves for the violence. Most of the miners who were killed and badly injured in Marikana were sole breadwinners and the loss of their earnings left many of their dependents in a desperate situation.