There are photographs of the assembled workers when Mathunjwa was addressing them, just before he left the scene. They are a large crowd, roughly 3 000 strong, spread between the mountain, the hillock to its north and lower ground between the two […]. They look peaceful, not threatening anyone. Yet, additional armed police were rapidly brought to the field around the mountain, and some were manœuvred into new positions, effectively encircling the workers. Much of this build-up was watched by strikers still sitting on the mountain. The media quickly retreated from just below the mountain to a safer position, from where they would record the opening of the massacre (Mineworker 6). Mineworker 8 reveals Lonmin’s direct involvement. Two « big joined buses from the mine » arrived delivering yet more police to the scene. Also « soldiers » appeared on top of their Hippos (these were probably Hippos of the classic kind). We later learned there were vehicles from each of the neighbouring provinces, but it seems there was even one, perhaps more, from the Eastern Cape. Mineworker 4 tells of strikers talking to homeboys from towns in the Transkei, and a witness quoted by Greg Marinovich mentioned that he’d been told that an Eastern Cape policeman had claimed « there was a paper signed allowing them to shoot  Greg Marinovich, « The Cold Murder Fields of Marikana »,... ». Mineworker 8 says: « What really amazed me was that the truck that carries water and the other one that carries tear gas, they were nowhere near, they were standing right at the back ». Ominously, mine ambulances were already present when the shooting started (Mineworker 8).
The comments are significant because the police had begun treating the workers as if they were no longer human beings. A group of the miners’ leaders, including Mambush, tried to remonstrate with the police. Their plea that a gap be left open, so that strikers could leave like human beings, fell on deaf ears. With guns aimed at the workers, it was clear that the police were now ready to shoot. A large number of the strikers rushed north eastwards in the direction of Nkaneng, where many of them lived.
It was now that the first shot was fired. According to members of our Reference Group, this came from the side of the miners who were heading towards Nkaneng […]. Some fleeing strikers, including several leaders, now turned towards the right, hoping to escape through a small gap between the wire and the first kraal. Most continued northwards, so there were no hoards of armed warriors following this leading group, as suggested in some media coverage, though not by TV footage. One woman, a witness, later made the point that the strikers were running with their weapons down, and so were not a threat, and this can be seen in some photographs  Genevieve Quintal, « Marikana commission, observers.... It was too late. The leaders’ path was blocked by Hippos, and they were trapped. Mineworker 2 recalled: « People were not killed because they were fighting... We were shot while running. [We] went through the hole, and that is why we were shot ». The order was given to fire. The command probably came from a white man, who did so, according to Mineworker 6, using the word « Red »  See also speech by Bhele in the book.. There were no warning shots  See speech by a strike leader in the book.. According to Mineworker 2, who was clearly present, « the first person who started to shoot was a soldier in a Hippo, and he never fired a warning shot, he just shot straight at us ». Within seconds seven workers had been slain, killed by automatic gunfire right in front of TV cameras [...] In photographs, their bodies are pictured in a pile, with a shack nearby. Moments later, another group of five men were killed, their bodies crushed against a kraal, as if cornered without any possibility of escape. Mineworker 8 questioned: « I get very amazed when the police say they were defending themselves, what were they defending themselves from? ». Some of the leading group, including Mambush, were able to turn back. They attempted to join other workers scattering in all directions  Mambush did not get far. His body was found close.... Many fled north; some went westwards in the hope of reaching Marikana; others just ran as far as they could and as quickly as their legs would carry them; and one, at least, crawled a long distance across ground, hoping to dodge bullets and Hippos (Mineworker 4). It is difficult to imagine how terrifying and disorienting the situation must have been. There were armoured vehicles all around; there were helicopters in the sky; horses charging to and fro; police sweeping through on foot; stun grenades making a noise as loud as a bomb; tear gas; water cannons; rubber bullets; live rounds; and people being injected with syringes. This was not public order policing, this was warfare. A strike leader remarked: « Water, which is often used to warn people, was used later on, after a lot of people were shot at already  See speech later in the book. ». Perhaps confirming this, on 20 August we found blue-green water-canon dye in an arc well to the west of the mountain, far from the initial front line. Similarly, Mineworker 10 asserted: « They lied about rubber bullets. They did not use them ». I have not heard of the use of injections before, and it remains to be seen why they were used and to what effect. Helicopters used a range of weapons. Of the 34 workers who were slaughtered on 16 August, 12 died in the opening encounter. About eight died in various locations nearby. The remainder were killed in one small location. This is the place known by the Inquiry as Kleinkopje. But South Africa is littered with small koppies and it seems more appropriate to call it Killing Koppie. Here, some 300 metres to the west of the mountain, on a low rocky outcrop covered with shrubs and trees, the police killed 14 workers. On a grassy plane with few large bushes this was an obvious place to hide from bullets and Hippos, but it was relatively easy for the police to encircle and then move in for the kill. Two helicopters came from the north, depositing their paramilitary cargo, and two or three Hippos moved in from the south. Mineworker 9 told us: « That is where some of our members went in and never came back... the people who ran into the bush were ones being transported [in ambulances and police trucks] ». On 20 August, when we were directed to the Killing Koppie, we not only found letters on the rocks that had been spray-painted in yellow, marking sites from where bodies had been removed, we also saw pools and rivulets of dried blood discoloured by the blue-green dye  Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope and Peter Alexander,.... Mineworker 5 was present on the Koppie; one of those lucky to survive. He recalls: « You were shot if you put up your hands ». Needless to say, he did not raise his hands. Rather, he says: « I was taken by a gentleman who was of Indian ancestry. He held me and when I tried to stand up I was hit with guns, and he stopped them » A drop of humanity in a sea of bestiality. Some workers were disarmed and then speared by the police (we heard this from a number of strikers including Mineworker 5). Whatever view one takes of the initial killings, it is clear that the men who died on the Killing Koppie were fleeing from the battlefield. Moreover, the precise locations of deaths and the autopsy evidence tend to reinforce the account provided by Mineworker 5, leading one to the conclusion that Killing Koppie was the site of cold-blooded murder  See Marinovich, « The Cold Murder Fields of Mari.... […]
The bloodshed, cruelty and sorrow of the massacre could have led to the collapse of the strike. That is what Lonmin, the police and NUM had expected. But it was not to be. Somehow, surviving leaders managed to rally the workers and stiffen their resolve to win the fight. The bloodshed, cruelty and sorrow of the massacre could have led to the collapse of the strike. That is what Lonmin, the police and NUM had expected. But it was not to be. Somehow, surviving leaders managed to rally the workers and stiffen their resolve to win the fight. […] This was one of the most remarkable acts of courage in labour history  This paragraph is the last one of the book..