Lonmin: Massacre is never justified

Police, armed to the teeth, kept the peace at the tumultuous Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, in the North West province of South Africa. The reports differ as to the price of peace. Some claim nearly 50 dead, others 30 some. Killed by police bullets.

Striking miners had occupied a hill, Wonderkop, ostensibly because “it is not mine property and the police would not kill us here.” They did. The police came, surrounded the hill, and, at some point, opened fire on the protesters. The police opened fire with live ammunition.

The State claims to have claimed to accept responsibility. What could we do, it says, when the miners were so violent, when protests have become so violent? `We’ could show up with some other than live bullets.

There’s more to the story … and there’s less.

Massacre is never justified. In the very many, eloquent, passionate, and often persuasive analyses that have followed the massacre that occurred just yesterday, one thing is being missed. Massacre. The existential thing that massacre is.

Massacre is not just another word. Massacre is when language stops, when reference and when representation stop. It is an absolute rupture of all. One doesn’t `explain’ massacre. One simply stops. Because massacre is absolutely impassable.

The question of how the massacre occurred will be debated and, hopefully, answered. Hopefully, the answers will lead to humane policy and practice.

But first … stop. Remember, massacre is never justified. No peace follows massacre. No justice emerges from massacre. Nothing emerges from massacre.

And now?

A hundred women danced in a dirt road on Friday, singing protest songs amid ramshackle wooden and corrugated metal shacks sitting over one of the world’s richest platinum deposits. These songs were once directed at South Africa’s white apartheid government, but these women were singing to denounce their own police who fired on their striking menfolk, leaving 34 dead, the day before. The police came here to kill our husbands, our brothers. Here. Our children!” said 42-year-old Nokuselo Mciteni.”

Nothing emerges from massacre. Nothing.

(Photo Credit 1: AFP)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.