The political significance of the Marikana strike was noted above. The miners’ demonstrations from August 10 to August 16 led to increasing tension – on August 11 National Union of Mineworkers officials fired on the crowd, on August 12 the strikers were attacked by police with rubber bullets and on August 13 police fired on demonstrators who refused to hand over their own weapons, a clash that led to two deaths on each side. The miners tried to avoid violence spreading into the local community and the looting of shops by individuals taking advantage of the situation (as had happened in an earlier strike): when challenged by NUM officials on August 11 they moved to high ground some distance from their homes.
The police shooting of 34 miners occurred on August 16. The day after the shooting, wives of the miners demonstrated, claiming that the police shot first and demanding those responsible should be identified and punished.
Civil society groups, for example Citizens 4 Marikana, have rallied to demand the police to be held to account, support the bereaved families and provide legal representation. An official enquiry, which did not include any civil society representatives, was launched in October 2012. The report, finally published in June 2015, absolved senior political figures, but did question the role of the national police chief, criticize police tactics and recommend that police involved in the shootings be investigated for criminal liability. The Marikana strike, and the government’s response, has been widely covered by the press and other media, but has not yet resulted in a large literature. But some references are listed below.