Sunday, November 2, 2014

Miner's Shot Down. Fundraiser for Marikana families

A captive and diverse audience for Miners Shot Down

The San Leandro Workers’ Club (San Leandro, California) sponsored a showing of the film, Miners Shot Down at the Englander Pub and restaurant in San Leandro on November 1st.  The film, directed by Rehad Desai (Watch an interview with Desai here), covers events that occurred at the Lonmin mine in Marikana South Africa in August 2012.

Rock drillers at the mine went on a wildcat strike after frustration at their union leadership’s cozy relationship with management and refusal to support their demands for wage increases. These workers mine one of the world’s most valuable minerals for pitifully low wages that ensure a life of poverty.  The miners merely wanted the company to negotiate with them, but Lonmin’s management insisted they go through their official leaders in the NUM. The NUM officials however, refused to support the drillers' wage demands and had shot at strikers attempting to protest at the NUM offices. The miners were demanding a wage of R12,500 South African Rand a month. 

Miners Shot Down is a very powerful film.  Through detailed accounts and emails produced in the aftermath of the massacre, it shows how the Police, Lonmin and government ministers colluded during the six days prior to the massacre to break the strike and to stop it spreading to other mines.  It shows how Cyril Ramaphosa, the once heroic NUM leader now government minister, sided with the corporation on whose board he sits.

Ramaphosa in an unguarded moment in the film justifies his collaboration by claiming that with the introduction of Black Economic Empowerment some blacks have been brought in to the corporate world but do not own or control these industries which is true.  Neither the economic or political power has changed hands and the system of exploitation remains. He excuses his collaboration on the basis that all people like him can do is become “advocates.”  He sees no alternative to capitalism and like his counterparts in the US, has enriched himself in the process.

There is a very moving scene in the movie when Joseph Mathunjwa the head of the rival union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), falls to his knees and pleads with the strikers to leave their gathering place, telling them that a black man’s life is “very cheap” in Africa and warning them of the “capitalists” brutal intentions.

A diverse group of forty-five people attended the San Leandro event that raised $300 for the Marikana Justice Campaign.  There were blue and white collar workers, professionals and students. Members of various unions present included, SEIU, ILWU, Plumbers, Operating Engineers, Letter Carriers, and Afscme. 

It is important for as many of us as possible to see this moving film and help the victims. If you are interested in showing the movie to raise funds for the campaign, in a home, club or other venue, and are in the Bay Area contact the San Leandro Workers Club at

For future screenings go here:

Miners Shot Down Website:
Trailer for the Miners Shot Down

Below are two useful articles that give some insight in to the social conditions that led to this clash between the South African government and the working class, the worst massacre in post Apartheid South Africa, at the following links:

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