Socialist film maker Rehad Desai has uncovered previously unseen news footage of the beginning of the Marikana massacre in South Africa on 16 August 2012.
It clearly shows one of the striking Lonmin platinum miners’ leaders at the head of a large group moving away from “the mountain” where they had been meeting.
They are heading towards Nkaneng, the informal settlement where most of them live.
The miners are moving slowly and trying to leave—not attack.
The police move vehicles up and then open fire, panicking the miners who start to run.
This fits entirely with the miners’ evidence as reported in Socialist Worker at the time.
It contradicts the police statement that the miners attacked them three times and they had to fire in self defence.
Socialist Worker’s report, days after the massacre said, “Witnesses say police near the ‘small koppie’ (hillock) opened fire on them, probably with rubber bullets.” The new footage backs this up.
The police shot 112 striking miners, killing 34. They later arrested 270 protesters, blaming them for their colleagues’ deaths.
Rehad found the footage while preparing a documentary on the massacre.
The latest revelations follow the discovery of police hard drives containing material that the police had not presented as evidence at the commission into the massacre.
Much of the new information contradicts the evidence officers did give.
One of the documents is a transcript of a meeting between Lonmin officials and the police from two days before the massacre.
This was the meeting where Lonmin’s vice president for “human capital” Barnard Mokoena said, “Let tomorrow be the D-Day where we issue the ultimatum and say if you do not show up for work, sorry, that is it.”
Also at the meeting was Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo who complained, “Remember we are tied up by these new amendments in our law that says we should not shoot.”
Other new footage also shows damage to police armoured vehicles.
Police had testified that the damage was carried out by the miners as they attacked the police.
But the damage was visible on film shot before the massacre took place.
A mortuary worker has supplied an affidavit saying that on the morning of the massacre police ordered four mortuary vans and an officer told him, “Today we’re going to take the miners down.”
Angry public meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town after the massacre set up the Marikana Solidarity Campaign
The South African High Court decided two weeks ago that the miners could have legal aid to fund their legal costs.