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South African Cartoonist on the Lonmin Massacre

In South Africa, the country has been gripped by an deadly incident last week that has been dubbed the “Hill of Horror.” Police shot and killed 34 striking miners in the deadliest security incident since apartheid ended in 1994.

This story has largely gone unnoticed in the U.S., where the news has been dominated by Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin. So I thought I’d turn to Jeremy Nell (who goes by the pen name “Jerm”), a South African cartoonist I syndicate nationally through Cagle Cartoons, to describe the event and showcase some of his cartoons.

Jerm writes:

To tell you exactly what happened is a tricky. This is why there is an official investigation ordered by the president.

In short, unionised workers at the Lonmin platinum mine, in the north west of the country, engaged in very aggressive strike action over wages. Temperatures escalated and the standoff between the miners and police ended in tragedy, with some armed miners (wielding sticks, pangas and guns) attacking the police who then fired live ammunition into the crowd. (The question of “who fired first” is being investigated.) On Thursday, 34 miners were killed (and another 10 were killed on the days leading up to it), and nearly 80 were injured. Furthermore, 2 police officers and 2 security guards were killed.

My cartoon, that followed, is really just one of disappointment in my fellow South Africans. Instead of pointing fingers, I felt it necessary to reflect on the freedoms for which Nelson Mandela fought. What happened at Lonmin is one of the bloodiest moments in South Africa’s post-apartheid history. Actually, I think it is.

Looking at the photos and footage, one would be forgiven for thinking that South Africans are still oppressed.



My second cartoon wonders about the type of language South Africans throw around. With anti-apartheid songs like “Kill The Boer”; with the president singing songs such as “Umshini Wami [bring me my machine gun]“; with politicians telling cops to “shoot to kill”; and with “kill for Zuma” rhetoric (Jacob Zuma is South Africa’s president) being vomited out of Julius Malema’s mouth, is it any wonder that many South Africans are filled with hate?

Perhaps we should look inside ourselves and think about the words we say and the songs we sing.

Speaking of former ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, I opted for a slightly more lighthearted approach after he grabbed the opportunity to selfishly address the Lonmin miners and fire them up (as he typically does) by blaming the police (and mine bosses and Jacob Zuma and anyone else who slots into his populist strategy).

The phrase “tjatjarag” is homegrown and difficult to explain. Urban Dictionary defines it as “ To be over-eager and excitable in an annoying manner.” (which is kind of on the money).

If you want to follow more of Jerm’s South Africa cartoons, bookmark his blog.