On Saturday, nearly 100 people protested outside the London headquarters of Lonmin, the mining company partly responsible for the murder of over thirty workers at the Marikana mine in South Africa last week. Chanting ‘Lonmin, murderers! Victory to the workers’ and ‘Cops kill thirty five, Lonmin profits still alive!’, the protesters marched through central London to the South African embassy. The protest was attended by trade unionists, students and others from across London, standing in solidarity with the miners and their community.
Despite a global recession, the car industry for now continues to thrive, and Lonmin’s profits are booming. Yet they are keenly aware that their ability to reap these profits is threatened by the militancy of workers at the Marikana mine. Still, the massacre of workers by armed representatives of the state is something we might have thought belonged in South Africa’s past. As a former Secretary of the London Anti-Apartheid committee put it, the fact that this has been committed under the auspices of the ANC is a betrayal of the constitution which was created after the fall of apartheid, a constitution which enshrined values of freedom and democracy.
In London the working class is assaulted by the police; people are killed; no one is found guilty. This is quite literally only a fraction of the death which has overcome South Africa this last week, and the state of fear we feel can only be a fraction of that under which the miners labour. Lonmin, formerly the London and Rhodesian Mining Corporation, is an all too present reminder of the closeness the commercial and financial heart of London has to state violence in South Africa, a proximity which it seems has hardly diminished since the fall of the Apartheid government.
A woman from the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe spoke at the end of the march. She invoked the memory of Rosa Luxembourg, saying that only through the action of the workers in Southern Africa will capitalism be defeated, and the economic apartheid which has come to reign be cast aside. She finished by leading the crowd in chanting ‘Amandla! Awetu!’.