Four years after 34 South African mine workers were shot dead while protesting living conditions, Amnesty International finds little has improved
On 16 August 2012, 34 men were shot dead and 78 others were wounded in Marikana, South Africa, while protesting poor pay and terrible living conditions at the mine where they worked. The shooting, described by South Africa's media outlets as a massacre, was the single most lethal use of force by the South African Police Service against civilians in more than 50 years.
The mine was, and still is, operated by British mining giant Lonmin, one of the world’s largest producers of platinum. According to Amnesty International, in the run-up to the protest and ensuing violence of 2012, thousands of Lonmin employees had been living in slum-like conditions in informal "settlements".
“Lonmin was well aware of the situation and had, under its 2006 Social and Labour Plan (SLP), committed to construct 5,500 houses for workers by 2011. By 2012 it had built just three,” Amnesty states in its report Smoke and Mirrors: Lonmin’s Failure to Address Housing Conditions at Marikana.
SLPs are legally binding documents based on South Africa’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and Mining Charter. By failing to deliver on its commitments, Lonmin was in clear breach of its legal obligations under South African law at the...