What horror in an Al Jazeera video of South African police opening fire on a crowd of platinum miners in Marikana trapped between barbed wire and police armoured vehicles. Those who tried to escape were chased down and shot like dogs: 34 dead, 78 injured, 256 arrested.
In part, probably payback for an earlier machete attack by the miners on police, but more, suppression of a radical miners’ union (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union–AMCU) which had lured members away from NUM–that pillar of the anti-apartheid movement, the National Union of Mineworkers. NUM is actually defending the police massacre. Zuma is “deploring the violence,” without specifying whose.
The National Mineworkers Union organized South Africa’s longest and biggest strike during the apartheid era; 360,000 black workers went out. It was critical to ending apartheid. And here is NUM today, defending indefensible police killings not unlike the ones under apartheid because the miners they shot down belong to a rival union. If NUM had been doing its job, there wouldn’t be a rival union.
As the shackdwellers put it:
Abahlali baseMjondolo are deeply shocked by the murderous cruelty of the South African police, and those that give the police their orders, at the Marikana Platinum Mine in the North West. The killing of more than 40 mine workers yesterday by the SAPS is immoral and brings great disgrace on our country. There were other ways and much better ways to handle the situation. Yesterday will always be remembered as a dark day in the long history of oppression in South Africa.
There are times, as people say, if you’re not depressed, you’re not paying attention.
Drove down the peninsula into the sunshine today to have lunch with my brother’s first wife. We sat outside under redwood trees and ate and talked, but I couldn’t seem to rise to the occasion–felt distant, distracted, wooden.
A yellow jacket kept trying to eat my burger. It had a lot more immediacy than the conversation. Finally, I broke off a piece and put it in a saucer on the edge of the table. It worked, kind of. He’d land on top, then bend the upper half of his body deep into the meat, dart away, and repeat. Only thing is, on most of his return trips, he’d stop first at the part I was eating and only remember the other when I waved him away. No wonder I was distracted. It took away my appetite for the burger. I ate French fries and lettuce and tomato and wondered why I’d ordered it.