Four days after 34 of their comrades were massacred by heavily armed police, striking South African platinum miners defied a company ultimatum to return to work Monday or be fired.
Stating that barely 27 percent of the workforce had reported to the Marikana mine on Monday, the mine’s owner, London-based mining conglomerate Lonmin, was forced to back off of its threat. It issued a statement saying that no one would be fired for not having gone back into the mine and set a new deadline of Tuesday morning.
The mine was unable to resume any production Monday, as rock drill operators, some 3,000 of whom have been on strike since August 10, refused to end their action. These workers, among the most brutally exploited in South Africa, are indispensable for digging new platinum out of the ground.
Thousands of strikers returned to the hill overlooking the mine where the massacre took place on Monday. The area remains a “bloody battlefield,” according to a report published Monday in the South African Mail & Guardian.
“Bloodied pieces of clothing littered the ground and surrounding bushes, while fresh yellow paint marked the areas where dead bodies were strewn,” the newspaper reported. An empty teargas canister was discarded close to one of the yellow paint markings, and nearby a spent flare was played with by a group of children.”
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