Despite repeated declarations of "Never Again", from Solferino to Auschwitz, from Rwanda to South Sudan, history is filled with a litany of incomprehensible atrocities perpetrated by people against other people. The Marikana shootings of August 2012, in which 41 striking miners were killed by police, and described as the single most lethal use of force in post-apartheid South Africa, now form part of this growing sore on the human race's conscience. When such atrocities are committed, we try to expose the truth and bring those responsible to account through storytelling. Partly due to the complex relationship between human rights and power, the authenticity of such stories is often contested, with far reaching implications for both victims and perpetrators.
The purpose of this paper is to add to the body of knowledge of the emerging human rights storytelling genre. It will achieve this by critically reflecting on the stories that emerged from the Marikana massacre in order to gain a better understanding of what they tell us about the protection and promotion of human rights in South Africa. The paper seeks to answer three critical questions: 1) How authentic are the stories told by different parties after an atrocity? 2) What can we learn about the relationship between human rights and power from stories of atrocity? 3) Does storytelling make a difference in our understanding, protection and promotion of human rights?
The paper concludes that despite, one may also argue because of, the contestations around the stories emerging out of the Marikana massacre, it has become an important site shaping the human rights discourse in post-apartheid South Africa. Storytelling ultimately improves our understanding, protection and promotion of human rights.
Mini Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2018.