Bishop Joseph Seoka, the President of the South African Council of Churches, will be the main speaker at the launch of a new book on the Marikana Massacre this Thursday. Seoka, a key witness at the Marikana Inquiry, says Lonmin's failure to negotiate with the strikers was as a primary cause of the tragedy and he ridiculed police explanations that focus on sangomas and muti.
The book, Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, is authored by UJ professor Peter Alexander, the South African Research in Social Change, and a team of researchers that includes Thapelo Lekowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell and Bongani Xeswi.
The launch will be facilitated by Prof. Adam Habib, UJ's deputy vice-chancellor for research.
The event will also be addressed by one of the leaders of the Marikana strike and by the authors.
The heart of the book is a series of interviews with strikers, most of them recorded on 'the mountain' close to where 34 of their comrades were killed on 16 August. Prof. Jane Duncan, chair of Media and Information Studies at Rhodes University says: 'The book provides a bottom-up account of the Marikana story, to correct an imbalance in many official and media accounts that privilege the viewpoints of governments and business, at the expense of workers.' Prof. John Saul, the Canadian political scientist, one of the world's top experts on liberation struggle in Southern Africa, comments that the book is: 'well written, extremely scrupulous in its research and forceful in its argument'.
Despite the relevance of the book for the work of the inquiry, and although it is based on academic research by a team lead by one of the country's top social scientists, the Farlam Commission refused to receive a copy, arguing that to do so 'may create a perception of bias on the part of the commission'. Alexander comments: 'The launch will provide an opportunity for the media and the public to join a discussion about the Marikana book the Marikana Commission does not want to consider'.