Workers and Socialist party

Co-workers and relatives of miners shot at Marikana gather there to mark the first anniversary of their deaths (Getty)

The shooting and killing of 34 striking miners in Marikana a year ago has become a symbol for the growing inequality and civil strife boiling beneath the surface of post-apartheid South Africa.

The massacre at the Marikana platinum mine complex operated by the London-listed company Lonmin occurred six days into a strike in which 10 others had already been killed in clashes, including two policemen. The striking miners, armed with sticks, stones and machetes, were demanding monthly wages of R12,500, a little more than £900, in a country where the average wage is R27,239. Strikers said that they had been warned to leave the area and then were surrounded by coils of razor wire laid down by police. “That’s when they started shooting,” the FT’s Andrew England was told at the time. “It was terrible.”