SA Social scientists on Marikana Massacre

Social scientists in South Africa has made a short but effective statement on the massacre at Marikana on the 16 August 2012 when over 30 miners at the Lonmin mine outside Johannesburg were shot dead by the South African police. 

It is a statement made from the long experience of social science and humanities, and the ethical, moral and political stance that such research activities plays in any society, not least in a young democracy like here in South Africa. It is undersigned by leading scholars from all universities in the country and was taken up by the Daily Maverick that quotes from it:
“Through our research and teaching [in social science], we aim to contribute to an examination of social structures, social processes and social context, making sense of these historically and with awareness that they have political significance,” the statement reads. “Our research aims to reveal phenomena that are hidden, rather than rely on reports of what is immediately visible. 
 “As social scientists, we have a normative concern with defending truth, justice and democracy,” it continues. 

Apart from this there has been various activities at the universities, see for instances these pieces from Wits:

Blood on our hands - Prof. Yunus Ballim 
Marikana: outrageous claims or outrageous order? - Andries Bezuidenhout, Crispen Chinguno and Karl von Holdt
Speaking Truth to Power - Bonita Meyersfeld, Jackie Dugard and Nikki Naylor

Here is the statement in full:

To all social scientists in South Africa:

This link takes you to a statement on the Marikana Massacre: invite all social scientists in South Africa, including doctoral students and associated scholars, to add their name to the list of statement supporters. This a matter of urgent concern and we will close the list on Friday 21 September, after which we will publish the statement and list of signatories. Please forward this email to other South African social scientists. A list of initial signatories appears below, and further down you will find the text of the statement.

Best regards,
Prof. Edward Webster (Wits)
Prof. Peter Alexander (UJ).

Marikana: Statement by South African Social Scientists

As social scientists we share with the public of South Africa the sense of shock and outrage that followed the recent massacre at Marikana. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who died.

As social scientists we also respond to what has happened in a particular way. Our disciplines avoid episodic description and uncritical acceptance of official statements. Through our research and teaching, we aim to contribute to an examination of social structures, social processes and social context, making sense of these historically and with awareness that they have political significance. Our research aims to reveal phenomena that are hidden, rather than rely on reports of what is immediately visible.

Our analyses are leading us to a recognition of continuities from our apartheid past, with these exposed through events at Marikana. These include:

• massive inequalities that impact adversely on all aspects of the social life of people who are poorer;
• widespread prevalence of low wages (with the persistence of migrant labour and the expansion of outsourcing, subcontracting and informal employment, all of which exacerbate pre-existing problems);
• increased levels of unemployment, especially among young people;
• a system of production based on private profit at the expense of people’s needs;
• domination of the economy by the mining industry, and, with this, repatriation of profits by foreign investors;
• racism that is structural as well as interpersonal;
• growing violence, including hidden violence associated with poverty;
• the prevalence of shacks and other low-cost housing, generally accompanied by the poor provision of basic services; and
• highly repressive forms of public order policing and administration (including the use of the doctrine of common purpose).

Popular perceptions of the Lonmin Marikana mine massacre were initially shaped by TV footage of a single part of the massacre, viewed from the standpoint of the police. This account was reinforced by media briefings, prejudiced reporting, and opinions that blamed the violence on inter-union rivalries. Social scientific research giving weight to accounts by workers has emphasised the culpability of the police, flawed and biased official versions of events, sympathetic treatment of popular culture, and the unity of workers around a demand for a living wage.

Moreover, as social scientists we have a normative concern with defending truth, justice and democracy. And from this stance, we join others in civil society, in calling for:
• condemnation of the killing of strikers by the police, and the threat to the right to strike that this implies;
• recognition of the complicity of Lonmin, which has responded to workers with intransigence and insensitivity;
• appreciation that the gross inequality of rewards that exists at Lonmin, as elsewhere in mining and beyond, is indefensible;
• support for the legitimate demands of workers for substantially improved pay;
• a welcoming of the Judicial Commission of Enquiry and the investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID);
• consideration of demands by civil society organisations for expansion of its terms of reference of the Commission of Enquiry;
• full and sympathetic consideration of evidence by Lonmin strikers and community members in the areas around Marikana;
• determination of who authorised the use of live ammunition at Marikana;
• an IPID-led inquest or investigation into each individual death;
• careful monitoring of the Commission of Enquiry by independent civil society researchers;
• criminal charges to be brought against any police officer who terminated or endangered the lives of civilians by ordering or implementing orders to use live ammunition, or who tortured protesters while they were held in custody;
• disbanding the task forces that carried out the massacre;
• suspending those responsible for mismanagement of the processing of the crime scen
• dismissal of the Acting Director of the National Prosecuting Authority, who accepted the use of ‘common purpose’ in charging all those arrested with murder;
• dismissal of those who authorised a violent assault on the mine workers;
• the unfettered right of workers to belong to a union of their choice, combined with the promotion of strong, democratic unions; and
• immediate lump-sum payments and ongoing support to the families of miners and others killed at Marikana, and full compensation for those who were injured.

Initial signatories
Prof. Freek Cronje, Northwest University, President: South African Sociological Association
Prof. Eddie Webster, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Jacklyn Cock, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Peter Alexander, University of Johannesburg
Prof. Shireen Hassim, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Norman Duncan, University of Pretoria, Dean: Faculty of Humanities
Dr. Kelly Gillespie, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Ari Sitas, University of Cape Town
Prof. Noor Nieftergodien, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Maxi Schoeman, University of Pretoria
Prof. Jimi Adesina, University of the Western Cape
Prof. Francis Nyamjoh, Univeristy of Cape Town
Prof. Michael Burawoy, University of the Witwatersrand, President: International Sociological Association
Prof. Tina Uys, University of Johannesburg, Vice President: International Sociological Association
Prof. Henning Melber, University of Pretoria
Dr Nolwazi Mkhwanazi, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Peter Vale, University of Johannesburg
Prof. Roger Southall, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Jane Duncan, Rhodes University
Prof. Dirk Kotze, UNISA
Prof. Andries Bezuidenhout, University of Pretoria
Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg
Prof. Lawrence Hamilton, University of Johannesburg
Prof. John Daniel, School of International Training, Durban
Dr Hylton White, University of the Witwatersrand.


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