Marikana mayhem has taken SA 10 steps backwards
The Times Editorial: The scenes from Marikana mine in Rustenburg yesterday were horrifyingly familiar for all the wrong reasons. They seemed to be located in a past South Africa where stand-offs between police and civilians were ordinary sights. But this was no apartheid moment.
These scenes are part of our present, in a small town with a significant number of platinum mines.
Yesterday, television cameras caught sight of lifeless bodies on the ground, police officers menacingly moving around with rifles, and helicopters circling above the strikers at Marikana mine.
Two police officers have already been killed, as have security guards at the mine.
The images were transmitted across the world along with the news that the share price of Lonmin, the company against which the workers are striking, had slumped to a 2008 low.
The platinum industry - already in decline - will have been further devastated by the week-long strike. The mining strike earlier this year also ended with deaths and violence.
This country's image as a place in which to do business has also been affected.
The two unions at the heart of this strike - the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union - have blamed each other and Lonmin for the violence, intimidation and lawlessness of not only this week but the past year.
Cosatu, to which NUM belongs, has made stuttering noises about the events at Marikana. Its alliance partner, the ANC, yesterday sent out a message condemning the aggression.
But it is ironic that, in the same week as the violence by union members, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel presented his refined plan to drive South Africa forward to 2030.
How can Manuel's plan work in a South Africa in which unions are allowed to act with impunity and sacrifice the lives of their own members and others in a battle for supremacy?