Mgcineni Noki, the man in the green blanket, was murdered at the hands of South African police officers, during a peaceful demonstration on 16 October 2012. The demonstration came in the form of a strike. Miners who worked at Lonmin (a British owned platinum mining company) had been protesting in the hopes of being granted a platform to negotiate a wage increase and better working conditions with their employers.
One of the main complaints that the miners had been keen on discussing was that of the exploitation in the mining industries of African countries.
During an interview one of the other leading figures explained his reasons for wanting to demonstrate. He said: “Black workers are exploited…we work like slaves, even our fathers were rock drillers. Poverty forces you to forget your ambition, leave school and work as a rock driller at the same mine where your father worked. Where your boss will be the son of your fathers boss.”
Mgcineni played a key role in the demonstrations as one of five prominent leaders. At some point during the demonstration, Mgcineni began to fear for the lives of his fellow colleagues and declared “workers let’s leave this place, they have drawn their guns, let’s leave..”
As they departed the demonstrators were blocked off and shot down. Seventeen miners where murdered at the first scene and another seventeen were murdered as they tried to flee the scene. Mgcineni had been one of them. He had been shot 14 times whilst attempting to escape the conflict. Ambulances were barred from entering the scene for an hour after the shootings.
The police officers who brutally hunted and killed 34 peaceful demonstrators where never held responsible. No arrests have been made in response to the killings which has now been labeled the Marikana Massacre. The demonstrators were charged with public violence.
Mgcineni will forever be remembered because of his leadership and determination. Thanks to Mgcineni and other demonstrators, the year that followed marked demonstrations by over 100 thousand South African mine workers across the country. Workers at the Lonmin mining company were finally granted a 7% wage increase after four weeks of further protest.
On that day, 16 October 2012, Mgcineni challenged a brutal police force, a corrupt capitalist government and the imprint of thousands of years of colonialism.
Documentary Miners Shot Down, Directed by Rehad Desai