Police opened fire killing 34 and injuring 78 men who charged at them with sticks and machetes during a strike of workers at a platinum mine. It was the worst massacre since apartheid was lifted. Did they believe they were bulletproof?
Undeterred by water cannons and tear gas, the miners crept through the bushes towards the police and charged straight into a heavy line of fire.
The surviving miners are not talking, but union officials, residents of Marikana and the police confirmed the presence of the unidentified sangoma, who carried out rituals on the hill and dished out muti where workers had gathered throughout the week.
It is said the man, who is from the Eastern Cape, had provided muti to the protesters and made them believe it would make them invincible.
Credit: Thomas Mücke
Not many seem to want to talk openly about the ritual which is said to involve a medicine man (sangoma), cutting the skin and smearing muti (medicine that has some miraculous effect) into the wounds. The locals believe more would have been killed except for the muti which rendered some invincible to bullets. It’s a convenient ploy: a win for those who were fortunate enough not to be killed. For those that were, they did something to weaken the muti. Dangerous stuff, superstition.