Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre

By Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, and Bongani Xezwi

“Part investigative report, part oral history, part polemical pamphlet, Marikana illustrates what can be achieved when academics work closely with activists.”

Alex Lichtenstein, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Written by both academics and political activists, the book captured my interest from the first page…The raw data provided by the book makes it not only recommendable for labor scholars and African studies, but also a thrilling read for social movement activists. Marikana leaves room for more inquiries, which should contribute to conceptual debates.”

Esther Uzar, African Studies Quarterly

“Reading this accessibly written title is essential to anyone wishing to understand what happened in the South African platinum belt in the winter of 2012…. A monumental work, of which the first and not least merit is to have demonstrated with journalistic timeliness how much the sociological gaze—an embedded sociology here—may even shortly after the event bring so much to our understanding of it.”

Politique africaine

“Last year, in South Africa, miners were preyed upon and hunted like dogs for merely questioning the bad treatment that they received…. I read and wept. Why didn’t I know about this? Why didn’t you know more about this?”

The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise. Through a series of interviews conducted with workers who survived the attack, this account documents and examines the controversial shootings in great detail, beginning with a valuable history of the events leading up to the killing of workers, and including eyewitness accounts of the violence and interviews with family members of those who perished.

While the official Farlam Commission investigation of the massacre is still ongoing, many South Africans do not hold much confidence in the government’s ability to examine its own complicity in these events. Marikana, on the other hand, examines the various roles played by the African National Congress, the mine company, and the National Union of Mineworkers in creating the conditions that led to the massacre. While the commission’s investigations take place in a courtroom setting tilted toward those in power, Marikana documents testimony from the mineworkers in the days before official statements were even gathered, offering an unusually immediate and unfiltered look at the reality from the perspective of those most directly affected. Enhanced by vivid maps that make clear the setting and situation of the events, Marikana is an invaluable work of history, journalism, sociology, and activism.

Peter Alexander is the South African Research Chair in Social Change and a professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg.

Thapelo Lekgowa is a freelance research fieldworker, part-time journalist, political activist, and member of the Marikana Support Committee.

Botsang Mmope is an herbal healer associated with Green World Africa. He is an active member of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee.

Luke Sinwell is a senior researcher with the Research Chair in Social Change at the University of Johannesburg.

Bongani Xezwi is a freelance research fieldworker and an organizer of the Landless People’s Movement and the Right to Know Campaign in South Africa.



Retail price: $26.95, S.
Release date: Aug. 2013
168 pages · 5¾ × 8¼ in.
Rights:World except SADC, United Kingdom, and Ireland


Retail price: $69.95, S.
Release date: Aug. 2013
168 pages · 5¾ × 8¼ in.
Rights:World except SADC, United Kingdom, and Ireland


Release date: Aug. 2013
Rights:World except SADC, United Kingdom, and Ireland

Additional Praise for Marikana

“A moment in South African history that…may come to be seen as having been as significant as ‘Sharpeville’ and ‘Soweto.’… Well written, extremely scrupulous in its research and forceful in its argument.”

John Saul, Professor Emeritus of Politics, York University, Toronto

“No amount of capitalist brutality will deter our cause for a living wage. Workers should read this book about the struggles at Marikana.”

Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, South Africa

“The book is an attempt to provide a bottom-up account of the Marikana story, to correct an imbalance in many official and media accounts that privilege the viewpoints of governments and business, at the expense of workers.”

Jane Duncan, Highway Chair of the Media and Information Society, Rhodes University, South Africa