The Marikana massacre was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960. The shootings have been described as a massacre in the South African media and have been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. The incident also took place on the 25-year anniversary of a nationwide South African miners’ strike.
Controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back, and many victims were shot far from police lines. On 18 September, a mediator announced a resolution to the conflict, stating the striking miners had accepted a 22% pay rise, a one-off payment of 2,000 rand and would return to work 20 September.
The Marikana massacre started as a wildcat strike at a mine owned by Lonmin in the Marikana area, close to Rustenburg, South Africa in 2012. The event garnered international attention following a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security and the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on the one side and strikers themselves on the other, which resulted in the deaths of 44 people, 41 of whom were striking mineworkers killed by police. Also, during the same incident, at least 78 additional workers were injured. The total number of injuries during the strike remains unknown. In response to the Lonmin strikers, there were a wave of wildcat strikes across the South African mining sector.
The first incidents of violence were reported to have started on 11 August after NUM leaders opened fire on NUM members who were on strike. Initial reports indicated that it was widely believed that two strikers died that day; however, it later turned out that two strikers were seriously wounded, but not killed, in the shooting by NUM members. This violence was followed by the death of another eight strikers, police and security personnel who were killed in the following three days.