Well done, Greg!

Photographer Greg Marinovich has done extremely important and valuable work in uncovering important evidence at the Marikana shooting site. By pointing out that 14 men were killed far away from where police were allegedly defending themselves, under circumstances that point to the possibility of cold-blooded killing, he has raised questions which will have to be answered in the judicial commission of inquiry.

The answers may change the whole narrative of the event.

What a pity his work was not better edited, though. Marinovich was the person who hung around the site, examined the evidence when everyone else had moved on, and found some very interesting stuff, as captured in the piece which first appeared in the Daily Maverick.

Marinovich peppered his findings with rhetoric and stretched his conclusions a bit too far – mixing fact with speculation, and jumping to hasty conclusions. He imagined “a miner begging for his life on that winter afternoon”; and “N’s murderer could only have been a policeman”; “It is hard to imagine that N would have resisted …”. All of these are speculative, laced with uneccessary rhetoric and undermine Marinovich’s important evidence.

If there was a case where the evidence could have spoken for itself, where understatement would have better served the cause, where a few less adjectives would have have hardened the impact, then this is it.

Fortunately, Marinovich wrote a much more sober piece on the same site a few days later.

This is going to have major impact. It elevates some of the loose speculation which has bounced around the internet in the last couple of weeks into something much more substantial. But note how I qualified my intro: the evidence “points to the possibility of cold-blooded killing”, I said. At this stage, and until there is forensic evidence to back it up, I am not sure one can leave out any of those qualifiers.

The M&G re-ran Marinovich’s piece, and gave it precedence over a more considered Philip de Wet story that weighed up the evidence from various perspectives. An interesting contrast in approaches that will provide useful classroom material for my students.

One thought on “Well done, Greg!

  1. Good journalism?

    “We have been told that many of the corpses were shot in the back. Some of these corpses apparently had three bullet wounds in a close grouping. These point to the miners being shot at close range by automatic gunfire.”

    Supposition and third hand accounts are good journalism?

    “So did the police, as they were attacking Small Koppie, think they were in danger from the trapped miners?”

    Rhetoric, biased, unnecessary.

    “Then, precariously close to the edge, he spotted a bullet. A bent and scraped bullet that looked very much like an R5 bullet. It had obviously ricocheted once or even twice off the granite.”


    “There are precious few rocks that display bullet marks. I counted less than ten, rendering a theory of spraying of the area with long-range bullets a lie.”

    Marinovich is a ballistics expert now? And why is he crossing the line between being the story and reporting on it?

    Much more sober piece? The fact that has been reworked to ‘tone it down’ is scary.

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