WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
By Siphiwe Sibeko
When people ask if I enjoy my job, I usually tell them: “Who wouldn’t – I always have a different view from my mobile office each day”.
But the view I had on August 16 of the deadliest South African police security operation since apartheid ended will be difficult, if not impossible, to erase from my mind.
I’d been sent to cover a tense stand-off between police and striking platinum miners at a dusty mine northwest of Johannesburg. Little did I know that I would witness a police operation that led to 34 miners shot dead and more than 70 injured.
Earlier in the day, four striking miners sitting on a large rock on a hill dubbed by local media as the “Hill of Horror” called me over. During our casual friendly talk, they joked about the impact the drawn-out strike has had on their sex lives.
One asked me to guess their ages. Pointing to his friends, he said: “Look at us, we all have beards, we look so old, you cannot say we were born in 1982”. They complained that despite the long hours they work every day, they do not earn enough to send back to their families at home, let alone feed themselves properly. They were not prepared to go back to work unless their demand for a salary increase was met.