“Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law,” – the SA Bill of Rights.
The guns are quiet for now. The barking machinery stilled after the miners were muted. Their bodies strewn across an open field, bloody blooms flowering from the entry wounds in their backs. On the koppie a corpse – skull was fractured by a bullet – lies at an awkward angle. Here the men who once could talk kneeled in the dust, hands reaching heavenwards, pleading for their lives.
A bullet to the temple. Between the eyes. To the back of the head. Now the men are silent. Far away in the distance the wounded moan. But back at the koppie the only sound heard from these miners is the wind that whistles around their bodies.
It is a year later. Mothers and daughters travelled far from their homes to discover how, and why, these men died. The government sets aside R115 million for its defence. The miners need to beg for assistance, but when their account is empty so too is the charity afforded to them. In a quest for justice and fairness they pass around a bucket. 17 thousand rand in small change comes back.
In another world, apart from this one where people live in shanties, where children play in water defiled by effluent and greed, the suburbanites debate who should pay for the cost of finding out the truth of what happened to those miners. “I won’t do anything to enrich that attorney,” says someone with a smirk. Others make comments about comeuppance, and chuckle amid glib statements about miners voting for the ruling party.
In Johannesburg the intellectual elite gather to pay homage to Ruth First. Marikana miners shuffle into this public discourse, but are shown the door. On the day that Steve Biko died the miner’s families will march with workers to try and steer the gaze of a nation that doesn’t want to look at them.
“Our government has a case (to answer). If it is that it’s us who were wrong, let the truth come out. They don’t want to assist because they want to hide the truth,” says mineworker Mzoxolo Magidiwana, who walks on crutches after being wounded at the massacre. “I don’t know why the government is trying to hide this, because a person’s blood cannot be hidden. Why is it that they are not willing to help us but are helping the police?” he asks.
When no one answers the miner’s question, a philosopher steps forward.
“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal,” says Aristotle.