Tag Archives: South Africa

Η ανεργία στην Ελλάδα ΔΕΝ είναι πιά επιλογή αλλά καθεστώς

I tried to pass this on Twitter but everyone is busy doing their own thingy.Not to blame anyone but anyway,thought the best way to spread the word is directly from my own blog.
The needs in Greece are increasing.Any kind of clothing is needed right now as we have winter approaching.I am lucky I still have power and an Internet connection to use it for helping others as well.If you reside in the austerity struck Greece -or know someone who does-and you have spare clothes,clothes that don’t fit in your children,shoes,blankets,school bags anything,please call to the Family and Kid non profit organization ,they collect directly from your place what we consider trash,to donate it and help some kids stay warm.

Do not forget,Unemployment in Greece is no longer an option. Is a status quo

+30 2310 502900 Thessaloniki region.NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION

Προσπαθησα να το στειλω μεσω twitter αλλα καθως ειναι Σαββατο,ολοι πινουν καφέ και πετανε φιλοσοφιες για αντρες και γυναικες,οπισθια και σεξ και δεν συμμαζευεται. Λοιπον παιδακια,επειδη δοκιμασα εκκλησιες και σωματεια και δεν ξερω τί αλλο,και κανεις ΜΑ ΚΑΝΕΙΣ δεν βοηθαει,μη ξεχναμε οτι ο γειτονας εχει κομμενο ρευμα,ειναι ανεργος με 2 ανηλικα και δεν τη βγαζει.Γραφω σε απλα ελλήνικος μηπως και γινω κατανοητή. ΔΕΝ ΜΕ ΝΟΙΑΖΟΥΝ τα χιτς στο blog οποιος εκτιμα οσα γραφω,διαβαζει,οποιος δεν.. σιγα τα ωά,καλη καρδια παντα.
Σημερα ξεκαθαριζα τα ρουχα των παιδιων μου,οσοι εχουμε παιδια ξερουμε πόσο γρηγορα μεγαλωνουν.. μαζεψα 4 σακκουλες ρουχα κι ακομη δεν εχω ξεκαθαρισει τα παπουτσια. Σας παρακαλω,εαν μενετε στην Ελλαδα,μην πετατε τιποτε!. Αν μενετε στην περιοχη Θεσσαλονικης,υπαρχει το σωματείο Οικογενεια και Παιδι,που μαζευει απο τον χωρο σας ο,τι θα πετουσατε και τα δινει σε οικογενειες με αναγκες. Μην ξεχνατε οτι στην Ελλαδα πια η ανεργια ΔΕΝ ειναι επιλογη.Ειναι καθεστως. Οφειλουμε ολοι μας να βοηθησουμε.Ο σκοπος του να διατηρω το blog δεν ειναι μονο να αποκαλυπτω τα μεγαλα συμφεροντα,ειναι και να βαζω εμβολιμη μια ασχετη αναρτηση οταν υπαρχει αναγκη.

Περιοχη Θεσσαλονικης 2310 502900 ΜΗ ΚΕΡΔΟΣΚΟΠΙΚΟ ΣΩΜΑΤΕΙΟ
Μοναστηρίου 45

Αγοραστε μια σακκουλα μακαρονια και χαριστε τα παλια ρουχα. Ακομη κι αν εχουν λεκεδες απο σοκολατα(ρωτησα το παλικαρι που του εδωσα 5 εβρα και επεμενε οτι ειναι πολλα..) Σας δινουν και αποδειξη για τους δυσπιστους. αλλα ετσι κι αλλιως θα τα αφηνατε στο πλαι του καδου,δεν σας κοστιζει τιποτε να παρετε ενα τηλεφωνο,να ερθουν να μαζεψουν τα παλια σας ρουχα.

Απο τα δικα σας σκουπιδια καποιοι θα ζεσταθουν τον χειμωνα.

Σκεφτειτε το πριν πειτε “ωχ μωρε παλι τα ίδια”

The Marikana massacre: a glimpse of the men behind the numbers



The City Press, a mainstream newspaper in South Africa, has published short obituaries of the striking miners gunned down by the ANC government.

Stelega Gadlela (50)

His first name was Stelega, a word Swazi language speakers use to describe a strike.

Ironic then that Stelega was shot by police during a strike by miners at Marikana.

Stelega hailed from the rural village of Dvokolwako, 60km from the city of Manzini, in Swaziland.

He left the kingdom in 1982 to search for work in South Africa and changed mining jobs a few times before settling at Lonmin in 1989.

He worked hard and climbed the ladder to become team leader.

The father of 11 children, aged between four and 28, he was his large family’s sole breadwinner. His dream was to extend their four-room house.

“He was our only hope. He was responsible for everything in the house,” said Stelega’s daughter, Hlengiwe (28). “Whenever he was on leave, he often spoke about building us a bigger house.”

Stelega’s wife, Betty, could not talk to City Press as Swazi culture forbids it because she is in mourning.

Meanwhile, close relatives were trying to imagine what would happen to Stelega’s family and all the other relatives he carried on his shoulders.

Hlengiwe said her father phoned to update the family about the strike shortly before he died.

The last time he phoned, he told her the situation was getting tense, and that helicopters and police had been sent to the mine.

“They should have dismissed him rather than kill him like that,” she said.

– Sizwe Sama Yende

Bongani Mdza (28)

Bongani would have started building his house last week. Instead, he was buried in his home village of Jabavu, near the Eastern Cape town of Matatiele.

His sister, MmaTshepo Letshaba, said Bongani had told her he would soon be taking his month-long leave to begin building his home on a plot
he bought next to her house.

“He asked to be fetched from Matatiele on Friday, August 31,” MmaTshepo said, adding that hewas very excited about the prospect of having a home of his own.

He was going to move his wife and two-year-old daughter, with whom he lived in a shack in the Nkaneng informal settlement near the mine in Marikana, into the new house once it was built.

Bongani had worked for Lonmin for several years since dropping out of school in Grade 9, his sister said.

“He helped us a lot, he assisted whenever we needed help.”

MmaTshepo said that as her husband worked far away from home, as a driver in Mpumalanga, Bongani helped out whenever her and her family were in need of extra money.

The two of them were very close, she said, as their parents had died when they were young.

She and her brother were raised by her husband’s family.

“Sishiyeke sibabini ngoku (there’s only two of us left now),” she said, referring to herself and her brother’s widow, who she regards as her only remaining sibling.

– Loyiso Sidimba

Jackson Lehupa (48)

Jackson dreamed of his wife and eight children having a proper home.

His brother, Joel, said the man who was buried at his homestead in Bethania, near the Eastern Cape town of Mount Fletcher last weekend, was passionate about improving his family’s circumstances.

That could have been what prompted the rock-drill operator to join the strike.

“I’m worried because he left a house he had just started building with the little money he had,” Joel said.

“So I really don’t know who is going to finish it. Recently, when we were preparing for the funeral, we had to put a tent on top of those walls with no window and no doors.”

The family remains as he left them, occupying a single rondavel and one other room.

“He was trying his best to build up something for his family,” Joel said.

Joel said the Lehupas appreciated government support, especially the counselling sessions social workers had with Jackson’s wife and children.

Although Lonmin has promised to educate the children of the mine workers shot dead, Joel said the family discovered in the days leading up to his brother’s funeral that some of his younger children were not registered as dependants with his employer, Lonmin.

“They’re there, they’re his,” he said.

– Loyiso Sidimba

Thabile Mpumza (26)

Thabile had not been working for Lonmin for nearly a year when he was shot dead.

“He worked there for two years, but was fired last year after taking part in an illegal strike,” said his sister, Xolelwa.

His family says he only joined the protest after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) promised to help him get his job back.

Thabile, from the village of Mvalweni, near Mount Ayliff, was his family’s sole breadwinner.

He supported his one-year-old baby, his siblings and their children, aged between 7 and 13.

He dropped out of school in Grade 7 following his parents’ deaths as “he could no longer afford school fees and a uniform”, his brother said.

He wanted better for his nieces and nephews, all of whom he was putting through school.

After leaving school, Mpumza went to Johannesburg and landed a job at a company manufacturing aluminium products, before joining relatives on the platinum fields in North West.

“It’s hard, we don’t even know where to start,” said Xolelwa at the family’s homestead overlooking the Mvalweni River.

Thabile died a few days after his grandfather passed away. They were buried on consecutive weekends.

His desperate siblings are now asking Lonmin to reinstate his position and allow his elder brother, Siyabulela (32), to take over his job as a rock-drill operator. He has been unemployed since 2003.

– Loyiso Sidimba

Thabiso Mosebetsane

Thabiso’s 74-year-old mother still feels physical pain following the shock of being told her son was shot dead at Marikana.

“We only got to know he was dead when others were already buried,” she said.

“I’m sickly following his death. My body aches,” she told City Press at her modest homestead in the village of Matsheleng, near Mount Fletcher.

Thabiso’s mother said he was in his 50s and his death had left three of his four children orphaned.

After his first wife – the mother of his eldest three – died, he remarried and lived with his second wife, the mother of his youngest child, in the Nkaneng informal settlement near the mine at which he worked as a winch erector.

His youngest son from his first marriage, Tshepo, a Grade 10 pupil at Sidinane High School, used to visit his father in the school holidays.

“I’m at home now. Because my grandmother’s pension payout is still a few weeks away, I didn’t go to school,” Tshepo said.

Mrs Mosebetsane said her son last came home for his father’s funeral in December 2010.

“We’re grateful to the Sassa (SA Social Security Agency), which brought groceries,” she said, pointing to a food parcel delivered by government officials.

Thabiso was buried at his village yesterday.

– Loyiso Sidimba

Thabiso Thelejane (55)

Thabiso may have known that he was going to die.

In his modest shack in Nkaneng a few months before he was killed, he told his wife, MmaKopano, the mother of his only child, whom he lovingly always called “dear”: “Respect me when I’m dead. Respect my grave.”

He lived with his wife in Nkaneng near the Marikana mine, described as a “house of laughter” by a neighbour who had travelled from there to attend his funeral.

Their home, however, was in Paballong, near the Eastern Cape town of Matatiele.

Others described Thelejane and his wife as a rare sight for a couple their age.

“It’s rare to see grown-ups so in love like lovelorn teenagers,” said a neighbour.

“No man loved Jesus like Ntate Thabiso,” said one of his fellow parishioners at Paballong’s Roman Catholic Church.

Another of his colleagues at Lonmin, Nkopane Mokoena, said they nicknamed Thelejane “Mapopota”. Those in his village and close friends affectionately called him “Zem Zem”.

Mokoena said Thelejane was a kind man and a people person who did not hesitate to join the strike that led to his death because he wanted to support his colleagues’ cause.

He had only been working at the mine, where he was employed as a team leader, for a few months.

His family said that they hoped his blood and that of his 33 colleagues would water the tree of freedom for mine workers.

His wife’s sister, who only identified herself as Ms Gungubele, said Thelejane was like a brother, always willing to help whenever his in-laws were in need.

“He was inseparable from his wife,” she said.

– Loyiso Sidimba

Mafolisi Mabiya (28)

‘My son was very young, that’s all I know,” said Nosajini Mabiya, Mafolisi’s heartbroken mother.

Nosajini said her son’s main priority was to build their home – a two-roomed mud rondavel and a half-finished flatlet.

“My son was proud of his home. He dreamed of building a big house and fencing it. When I think about him, it pains me because I remember all the things he has done for me and all the things he still wanted to do,” she said.

Mafolisi has two sisters, one of whom travelled from Cape Town to mourn her brother at the village near the Mbhashe River in the Eastern Cape.

As his mother spoke, young men from the village were digging the final resting place for their friend.

The miner leaves behind a young wife, Pumeza, and their one-year-old boy, Buhle.

“He was a good father to our son. The anger we have is not directed at anyone, but it’s from the pain we feel,” said Pumeza.

Mafolisi was the only breadwinner in the family.

– Athandiwe Saba

Molefi Ntsoele (40)

It takes almost an entire day of driving on dangerously winding dirt roads snaking almost 3 000 metres up into the Maluti Mountains to reach the village of Ha Tebesi in Lesotho.

From Maseru, you reach the trading post of Semonkong two hours away.

There, you wait until late afternoon for a ride in a beat-up 4×4 that takes you on the final leg of the trip, on a precariously narrow rocky road that passes through tiny villages that cling to the mountain tops like ant hills.

In Maseru people mention one thing and one thing only about Semonkong – the road.

After an hour on a winding, rocky track that would give anyone with a phobia for heights a heart attack, a shepherd looks at our tiny Ford Fiesta and smiles.

“It’s not very far. Behind that snow- capped mountain,” he says.

In the end we cannot reach Ha-Tebesi.

A government official on a site visit says it’s still a further two hours away and there is no way in hell we’ll make it in our car.

Molefi made this long trip once every two months, carrying groceries and provisions for his family.

He was employed by Lonmin as a rock-drill operator at Karee mine in Marikana.

He died on August 16, together with 33 other miners, when police fired on striking workers.

His last journey home was in a helicopter, when his body was airlifted from Maseru to Ha-Tebesi for burial yesterday.

– Lucas Ledwaba

Telang Mohai (37)

The old man’s voice trembles slightly when he relates an incident he will remember forever.

His nephew Telang had come home to Lithoteng Village, Ha-Pita, near Maseru, Lesotho, to visit his family.

He had spent a long month away earning a living at Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, where he was employed as a general production hand.

Telang gave the old man a parcel containing a new pair of brown leather shoes and a green pair of pants.

“Uncle,” Mohai senior recalls his nephew’s exact words, “I want you to be the best-dressed old man in Lesotho.

I don’t want to see any older person dressed better than you.”

These words, Mohai senior says, define the kind of person Telang was, a kind and generous soul who lived for his family.

He loved spending time in the pastures of his home village, working in the fields and looking after his cattle and sheep. But most of all he loved his family, his wife and three daughters. He had been saving to complete a beautiful face-brick house for them on the property of his late parents home where he grew up.

“What has happened is very painful,” said Mohai senior.

“I’ve worked on the mines for 32 years and have been involved in many strikes. In those days, there were many ways of quelling
strikes – tear gas, police dogs, water cannons.

“The police would disperse people so that they would go home and calm down. But this one I’ve never seen in my whole life.”

– Lucas Ledwaba

Andries Ntshenyeho (42)

Andries had been about to quit his job as a rock-drill operator at Lonmin’s Karee mine when he was killed by police.

A father of five, who had toiled on the mines around Rustenburg since 1990, he had been finalising plans to resign and follow his dream – starting a transport company at home in the Gauteng town of Vanderbijlpark.

His son, Thabang, said: “He was planning to buy a 22-seater bus to transport kids to school. He had been saving for the bus for many years. He was going to use the profit there to finance other buses and thereby start a serious transport company.”

Thabang described his father as a “peaceful family man who never partied or drank alcohol. He took good care of us.

He was supportive and came home every month’s end. When he was around, he would spend the whole weekend with the family.”

His deepest desire, his son said, was for his children to go to university.

“He preached it every day. He liked school and seized every opportunity to tell us to study to avoid turning out as he had.

“He would sit me down and tell me about the difficulties, and how they are exploited in the mines.”

Now, Thabang says, he has to put his studies on hold and find a job to provide for his family.

– Sipho Masondo

Matlhomola Mabelane (46)

Matlhomola was on leave when he was killed, allegedly by striking miners.

The security guard at Lonmin’s Karee mine had been called in by his bosses to help as the uprising at the mine began, his weeping
83-year-old mother said this week.

According to reports at the time, Matlhomola was burned to death alongside his colleague Hassan Fundi that Saturday. Mine officials only discovered their bodies the following Monday.

His mother had begged him to stay on leave and not to become involved in the strike.

“I told him not to go but he insisted on going,” his mother said.

“He was dedicated to his job, his family and myself.

“He was loyal. He was supposed to come and see me, as he always did when he was off. I called and called, but he didn’t answer his phone.”

Matlhomola, who is survived by his wife, Linah, and three children with whom he lived in Damonsville, outside Brits, North West, was a “very good son”.

“He looked after me. He was at my service and on call every time I needed him.

“I will never find another son like him. He came to this house literally every Sunday.

“He wanted me to be happy all the time. He was special and everything to me,” she said.

– Sipho Masondo

Papi Ledingoane (24)

Lebo Ledingoane could not bear the trauma of talking about the death of her brother Papi, who was killed by police, along with 33 other miners on August 16.

Speaking from Wonderkop settlement near Lonmin’s Karee mine in Marikana, where her brother worked as an engineering assistant, she said: “The wounds are still fresh. We are not right as a family. No one knows how to handle this. We are all dealing with it in the best way we know.”

Lebo referred all queries to her uncle, Lucas Ledingoane, who began to weep when asked about Papi. “What can we say?

The pain is unbearable. He leaves behind three brothers and a sister, who depended on him. He has a two-year daughter, Tsenolo.”

Lucas said he first heard of Papi’s death when he saw his dead body on the front page of Daily Sun the day after the tragedy.

“You can only imagine how I felt as an uncle,” he said, crying. “He was a responsible young man. The wellbeing of this family rested on his shoulders. We are stranded without him”.

– Sipho Masondo

Van Wyk Sagalala (60)

Van Wyk was supposed to have married his longtime fiancée, Kedineetse Lydia Mohutsane (49), this month.

“I’m hurting, I don’t even know what to say about this loss,” she said at his funeral last Saturday, which was held in the village of Setlagole, outside Mahikeng, North West.

“We had been together for three years.

“He was easy-going and always kept order in the house.”

She last spoke to the father of two, who worked as an equipper at Lonmin’s Karee mine, at 1.40pm on Thursday, shortly before he was

“He told me they’re on the hill, but they’re just sitting there peacefully.

I pleaded with him not to go to the hill again, but he said I should fear nothing.

“Even when I told him I’m worried about their strike, he said that there’s nothing to worry about and that I should send him a callback at 7pm that evening so that he can give me a progress report,” she said.

“He had promised that we’ll go and sign for our marriage this month and wear wedding rings because he’s been saying that his employers want a copy of a marriage certificate.”

Van Wyk’s sister-in-law, Binky Metswamere, said he was always full of good advice.

“The one thing I remember about him is his painful words when he said he wished he could die before me, because at least he knows I’ll be able to take care of everything he leaves behind,” she said.

“These words have now become a reality two or three months later. It was sad to lose my brother, but it became possible to accept because of his prophetic words,” Binky said.

– Lucky Nxumalo

Babalo Mtshazi (26)

Babalo’s sisters are so sad they cannot bring themselves to even talk about their brother.

“This has really torn them up inside,” said Nozipho Mtshazi, their mother. “The slightest mention of his name brings them to tears. He loved them so.”

Babalo was one of six children.

“I moved to this village because my son, Babalo, had finally gotten a job. I knew then that he would help me build our family a place they can call home. He wanted to build me and his younger siblings a big home. He had so many dreams,” she said.

The three rondavels and the newly completed flat that house the family were all built by her son.

All his siblings, except for one, are studying and were dependent on him.

Babalo left Nkanga school in Grade 7 when he became aware that his mother and siblings were struggling to make ends meet.

He headed for the mines, leaving behind his love of athletics, at which he excelled.

“Just over a month before he died we had a house-warming ceremony which he organised and made sure that every person from the village was fed and had enough to drink.

That was the kind and generous boy my son was,” added Nozipho.

Her son was never married but was father to two boys, Lisakhanya (3) and Masixole (13).

“He loved his boys very much and he was very proud of them,” said Nozipho.

– Athandiwe Saba

Bonginkosi Yona (32)

Baby Mihle Yona, only 21 days old, suckles on his mother in Maqhusha village near Lady Frere in Eastern Cape, not knowing he will grow up without a father.

But the infant’s mother Nandipha knows all too well she will never see her beloved husband again.

The last time she saw Bonginkosi was in a mortuary near Lonmin’s Marikana mine in Rustenburg.

“He was only seven days old when his father was killed,” said Nandipha Yona of her infant son.

The couple have another son, five-year-old Babalo.

Her husband was a rock-drill operator who had worked at the Lonmin mine for just more than two years.

Today Nandipha is reminded of her husband by the local church at which he was a pastor.

As she speaks, the small, recently extended mud home is filled with members of Bonginkosi’s church, who beat drums and sing to remember him and to mourn with her.

The stern yet forever helpful Bonginkosi grew up in Ngcobo in Eastern Cape and moved to Lady Frere before he became a teenager.

When he married, the couple moved in with his sickly mother, who passed away last year.

Nandipha says her husband’s only dream was to watch his children grow and make something of themselves.

“He was a selfless man who said he didn’t want to die with his children so young,” she said, “I can’t see things getting any better from here. We have no one left.”

– Athandiwe Saba

Khanare Monesa (36)

He was looking forward to the birth of his first child in three months’ time. The birth of the child would also coincide with his first wedding anniversary. But these dreams were shattered by a bullet to the left side of his head.

Khanare returned to his village of Boroeng near Butha Buthe, Lesotho, in a coffin.

His young wife Mmathabisile (23), his brother Motlalepula (33) and their sister Makgotso (39) will no longer roll with laughter at his jokes.

They say he was a funny man who enjoyed teasing people.

He loved his family and his wife, and was beyond excited when he learnt she was pregnant with their first child.

He loved football too, a game he played well into his 30s for teams in Rustenburg where he worked as a rock-drill operator at Karee mine. He loved the skull and crossbones of his beloved Orlando Pirates and was always glued to the TV whenever they played.

He also loved his cattle and called to check if they were well looked after. Two of the cattle were sacrificed for his funeral.

Monesa was also saving money to renovate his two-roomed house.

“He just wanted people to be happy all the time. He was a people’s person. Now I don’t know if life is going to be the same without him,” said Motlalepula.

“My only hope is that when his child is born, he’ll look exactly like him. The child will be a reminder to all of us that we once had a beautiful brother who was killed.”

– Lucas Ledwaba

Semi Jokanisi (29)

Semi was a step away from taking his place as a married man in the Nqaqhumbe community in Lusikisiki, Transkei.

Semi and a winch operator at Lonmin were in lobola talks to bring a wife to his new house and had promised his father, Goodman, this would be done by December – his 30th birthday.

“I was excited that the family tree was growing, and that he had built a house for himself and was now going to get married,” his father said.

“But now all those dreams have been shattered because he was fighting to earn a decent living wage,” said Goodman.

Semi had five children. His eldest turned 11 in July. The youngest is six. “It is a big blow. We were the only two looking after our big family. I hope and pray our government doesn’t let such a thing happen again,” Goodman said.

Goodman is also a miner at Lonmin and counts himself lucky that he was on leave when tragedy struck.

– Thanduxolo Jika

Thembinkosi Gwelani (27)

The last time Musa Gwelani saw his cousin Thembinkosi was when he cradled him in his arms on the killing field of Marikana.

Thembinkosi had been shot in the back of the head and Musa tried to lift him, but he couldn’t and the police were fast approaching so he let him go and ran for his life.

“The next time I saw him was at a mortuary and there was a bullet wound in his head,” said Musa.

Thembinkosi was apparently caught in the hail of bullets while delivering food to the striking miners.

His death is devastating to his family. He had been at Lonmin to look for employment in order to help his six orphaned siblings.

Now the young siblings have no hope for survival in the poor Makhwaleni village in the Lusikisiki district of Eastern Cape.

The siblings – five of whom are unemployed and one still at school – will have to rely on their grandmother’s pension to survive.

“At least Themba sent money and took care of everything. As you can see, there is nothing in this house,” said one of the siblings who asked not to be named.

“We at times sleep on empty stomachs.”

The Gwelani family have had to turn to their neighbours to help them bury Thembinkosi.

The villagers collected enough money to lay him to rest.

Musa said Thembinkosi will be remembered for his passion for traditional Mpondo music, which he also performed, even in the mines.

– Thanduxolo Jika

Thobisile Zibambele (39)

Nonkululeko Zibambele holds dearly onto the last memory she has of her husband: giving him a warm bath at his two-roomed shack near Lonmin’s Marikana mine a little over a month ago.

Nonkululeko had visited Thobisile from the couple’s home in Eastern Cape and recalls that at the time, Thobisile, a staunch Pirates fan, was celebrating his team’s win over fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs during the Carling Black Label Cup in July.

But Thobisile was also a family man who sacrificed everything for his four children by going to the mines to earn money to give them a better life.

“Our child is in matric this year and Thobisile wanted him to further his studies and not be frustrated by being unemployed,” she said.

“With that little money he was earning in the mines he was determined all his children should get a better education than him.

“But right now I am left with no hope because those people took away the only hope we had in this family,” said the widow.

Thobisile was born in Nyazi village in Lusikisiki in the Transkei and was not only providing for his wife and children but had started building a house for his mother, whom he had only met this year.

She had lived for years in Mpumalanga and family issues had resulted in them not meeting before.

But Thobisile had begun to heal a rift in the family and had planned a family gathering in December, where a sheep was to be slaughtered for a family reunion.

– Thanduxolo Jika

Janaveke Liau (47)

The last time Mamohai Mashale saw her uncle Janaveke was on August 14 when he returned to Rustenburg, where he worked as a rock-drill operator at Lonmin’s Karee mine.

As the only remaining sibling and breadwinner, Janaveke had gone home to the village of Likolobeng, in the heart of Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains, to participate in a cleansing ceremony for his late brother, a former mine worker who died in July, apparently from complications arising from a stroke he suffered seven years earlier.

After arriving in Rustenburg, Janaveke called Mashale.

“I am going to war,” he said. “We are on strike. But I promise you I won’t die. I will be fine.”

But Mashale was worried.

“Uncle, please come home,” she pleaded.

Janaveke did come home two weeks later – in a coffin.

Janaveke, a father of four children aged between 4 and 14, was described by Mashale as a caring and selfless man who also provided for his late elder brother’s wife and children.

“He was a very caring man. He was a very important man to many families because he did not discriminate against anyone. He was the breadwinner. We have lost our father, we are left as orphans. He was our trusted one, our provider. We don’t know what will become of us now,” said Mashale.

“He helped us in many ways, clothes, food, anything we asked for. He provided without any complaints. It did not matter if you were his
child or not, he did not discriminate.”

– Lucas Ledwaba

Mphumzeni Ngxande (38)

After years of struggling on the streets of Cape Town doing odd jobs, Mphumzeni finally got a break in 2008 when he packed his bags and went to work as a mine worker for Lonmin in North West.

Mphumzeni was born in Lujizweni village in Ngqeleni, 20km outside Mthatha in Eastern Cape but life was tough and there were no jobs for
him there.

His search for a living led him to Lonmin and his success in finding a job provided his family with their greatest hope for the future.

His father, Mboneni Ngxande, said it was difficult for the family to speak about their son, who was a rock-drill operator at Lonmin, as it was not acceptable in their culture to do so before a funeral.

However, Mboneni said his son had a wife, a child of his own and two other children who relied on his wages from the mines.

“He had warned us about the strike and raised fears that he might lose his job and have to come back home.

He said he had no choice but to join in the strike because everyone was involved,” his father recalled.

“I really got worried because we kept hearing on the radio there was violence at Marikana and that people were dying,” he said.

News of his death came as an enormous shock as the Mphumzeni they knew was a peaceful person.

His father said the family hoped their child had not died in vain and that life on the mines would improve for others from the villages as a result.

– Athandiwe Saba

Mvuyisi Pato (35)

Mvuyisi sweated on the mines to help give his sister a better life.

He chipped in every month to assist his parents pay for her fees at Fort Hare University in Alice in the Eastern Cape.

The 35-year-old Mvuyisi was born in Mbhobheni Village in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape and his death has left his parents with no idea where they will get the extra money they need to get their daughter through her second-year studies.

Mvuyise’s mother, Manqupha Pato, said her son was dedicated to his family and ensured that his younger siblings got a chance to get a better education.

“He was caring and not selfish. Even though he was building his own house, he made sure that his sister, who is at Fort Hare, got all the financial support she needed.

“It is very painful to us that we have lost him as you can see his father is a pensioner and I am in no position to work,” said Manqupha.

She said Mvuyisi and his two older siblings had a tough upbringing because the family was poor and this had forced him and his brother, Vuyisile, to look for work on the mines in the North West.

Vuyisile, who also works at Lonmin as a rock-drill operator, said he had just left Mvuyisi the day before the shootings to visit the family.

“The strike wasn’t ending and I told him I was going home. He said he was staying behind with the rest of the guys.

“But he told me to tell our parents not to worry,” Vuyisile recalled.

“It was a shock to get a call from the other guys telling me he had been killed,” said Vuyisile.

He will remember his brother for his bravery.

“He died for all of us in the mines.”

– Thanduxolo Jika

Mzukisi Sompeta (37)

Mzukisi’s family, from the dirt-poor kwaDiki Village in the Lusikisiki district of Eastern Cape, was expecting him home soon, bearing gifts as he always did.

Instead, the last time they saw him was when they buried him last Saturday.

Mzukisi, a rock-drill operator, died at Marikana and, like many who fell with him, his passing leaves a chasm in his rural home.

In the villages of Lusikisiki, families mark their rise from poverty by building brick homes to replace their traditional rondavels.

For the Sompetas, this was an ongoing project fuelled by Mzukisi’s earnings from Lonmin.

He was due to come home for his annual leave only a week after the day that he died, where he would have continued extending the family rondavel with brick buildings.

But those dreams died with him at Marikana.

His family remembers him as a man who loved to sing, especially popular church hymns. – Thanduxolo Jika

Ndikhokhele Yehova – even though he could never bring himself to admit that he was not a great singer.

“As you can see his father can’t do anything. He walks with a stick and has to be assisted to go anywhere. He is just a pensioner who is not well, so Mzukisi was now the one who was heading this household. None of my other two children are working so we are back to struggling because the family is big,” said Mzukisi’s mother Mabhengu Sompeta.

Dressed in her black mourning garmet and sitting on a mattress in the rondavel, Mabhengu mourned the loss of a man who had brought peace to their lives.

Phumzile Sokhanyile (48)

Phumzile was so loved by his family that his mother collapsed and died when she heard he had been killed at Marikana.

Phumzile had many nicknames in Mdumazulu village in the Transkei, but most remember him as uMshumayeli (The Preacher) who would grab every opportunity at a funeral to stand and quote Bible verses.

The nickname still makes people smile in the village as they recall a younger Phumzile, who would rather herd cattle than head to church on a Sunday with his grandfather and his siblings.

“If there was ever a funeral in the village he would be present and would take a chance and preach, which was very funny because he never used to like church,” said his sister Nozukile.

“He made us laugh and everyone in the village liked him because of his jokes and his caring nature,” she said.

Nozukile said her brother resembled their father so much he would sometimes claim to be him when teasing his mother.

“He was very close to his mother and made her laugh every time he came back home. He would say ‘umyeni wakho ubuyile (your husband has returned)’ and our mother would give him a very big smile and hug,” said Nozukile.

She said it was no coincidence their mother collapsed and died after hearing of his death. He was so central to her life.

Phumzile had hopes of taking his daughter, who is in matric this year, through university, an opportunity he had never had.

– Tnanduxolo Jika


Mgcineni Noki (34)

Mgcineni from Thwalikhulu in Mqanduli, Eastern Cape, was “The Man in the Green Blanket”.

Mgcineni, although at the time his identity was not known, was a prominent leader known only by the green blanket he wore about his shoulders, He featured prominently in TV footage leading up to the shooting of 34 miners at Marikana.

When the guns fell silent, he was among the dead.

He was affectionately known as “Mambush” and his family say it was no mistake he was chosen by other miners to be their leader. It was an extension of who he was.

“Our parents died a long time ago. My elder brother and his wife had to take care of us, but they also later passed away. Mambush was the father here. He took care of us and this home. We have nothing without him now,” said his sibling Nolufefe Noki.

The 30-year-old miner had been working at Lonmin since 2007.

“He was a driven man who was promoted in a year and received training to become a rock-drill operator,” said his cousin Mbulelo Noki, also one of the striking miners.

“Mgcineni was a very caring young man who never gave the village any problems. He even used to buy his former teachers cold drinks when he was home,” said villager Nowathile Ngcangwe, who went to mourn with the Noki family.

“I want people to know that we are very hurt and broken by what happened. People now think my brother was a violent person.

He wasn’t,” said Nolufefe. “I remember he would be the one who would calm us down and ask that we always keep the peace among us,”
she said.

He was a great Pirates fan and also loved weightlifting. He was married and had a three-year-old child, Asive.

Mbulelo said the last time he saw his cousin was on August 13.

“He was different, I didn’t like the person I saw. We were supposed to go home to our cousin’s funeral, but he didn’t even want to speak about it.

“He was taking his role as the strike leader very seriously,” said Mbulelo.

– Athandiwe Saba

Mongezeleli Ntenetya (34)

As the only breadwinner for 15 people, Mongezeleli was the champion of his family.

At his relatively young age, the rock-drill operator had to provide for his mother, his wife, his three children and his eight younger siblings.

His was the only income for the family home which lies off a gravel road in the village of Nqabarha near Dutywa in Eastern Cape.

He had worked at the mine since the age of 22.

“He was a humble man, who took care of us all,” said Mongezeleli’s wife Nosipho, her eyes bloodshot and swollen from crying.

The family find it hard to even talk of their lost relative.

Mongezeleli’s mother, Nowathile, said her son’s only dream was to educate his siblings.

“He wanted such a better future for his sisters and brothers and they all looked up to him,” she said.

He was not a miner who would return home only once a year.

“He came home as regularly as he could because he wanted to make sure the garden was ploughed and that everything was in order,” added Nosipho.

Orlando, one of his younger brothers, said he did not know what life would be like now that his brother was gone.

“Though my brother didn’t have much, whatever we asked for he would give it to us. He was a kind man, a big man who loved making everyone laugh. But right now none of us at home can really talk about it. It hurts,” he said.

– Athandiwe Saba

Anele Mdizeni (29)

Anele from Cwede near Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape had an upbringing where laughter was treasured.

After his death, the family gathered in a rondavel lit with a single candle, made jokes and decided to remember only the good times they enjoyed with him in his short life.

Anele grew up in Cwede and started working at the mine at the age of 22.

His brother, Vuyisani, remembers Anele as a talkative young man who went out of his way to make people laugh.

“We would be in stitches all day. We’d go hungry because of laughter. When he saw his jokes had made us hungry, he would dig into his pocket and buy us bread,” remembers cousin Luvuyo Mveli.

“We were expecting so much. He was here just this past Easter. My son had big dreams. He wanted to buy a car, especially to transport me around,” said his mother, Notshovile Mdizeni.

“My brother wanted a good life for his family and he knew he had to work hard to achieve his dreams. He took great pride in his job,” said Vuyisani.

Luvuyo tries to explain the day they were told Anele had been killed. “It was a painful day. Everyone was wailing. I can’t explain further because it hurts.”

Anele, a Pirates fan, married in 2009 and has a six-year-old child, Asisipho.

– Athandiwe Saba

Mongezeleli Ntenetya (34)

As the only breadwinner for 15 people, Mongezeleli was the champion of his family.

At his relatively young age, the rock-drill operator had to provide for his mother, his wife, his three children and his eight younger siblings.

His was the only income for the family home which lies off a gravel road in the village of Nqabarha near Dutywa in Eastern Cape.

He had worked at the mine since the age of 22.

“He was a humble man, who took care of us all,” said Mongezeleli’s wife Nosipho, her eyes bloodshot and swollen from crying.

The family find it hard to even talk of their lost relative.

Mongezeleli’s mother, Nowathile, said her son’s only dream was to educate his siblings.

“He wanted such a better future for his sisters and brothers and they all looked up to him,” she said.

He was not a miner who would return home only once a year.

“He came home as regularly as he could because he wanted to make sure the garden was ploughed and that everything was in order,” added Nosipho.

Orlando, one of his younger brothers, said he did not know what life would be like now that his brother was gone.

“Though my brother didn’t have much, whatever we asked for he would give it to us. He was a kind man, a big man who loved making everyone laugh. But right now none of us at home can really talk about it.

It hurts,” he said.

– Athandiwe Saba

Bongani Nqongophele (28)

Bongani’s wife was so distraught at the news of his death that she tried to take her own life by drinking pesticide.

Nosipho Ntonga, Bongani’s sister-in-law, said: “His wife couldn’t take the news. She is so weak right now. She tried to commit suicide.”

His mother was so shocked she also required medical care.

Bongani had been working at Lonmin for a year as a driller after leaving his sparsely populated village near Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape.
There he had married his wife, Nombulelo, in 2008 and the couple were devoted to each other.

“I would trade places with my brother-in-law in a heartbeat if I could,” said Nosipho.

“He was very young and had so much he was looking forward to. My sister is at the doctor now because she is so weak.

“I don’t want her to find me in tears like this. I have to be strong for her.” She wept.

The father, husband and brother had many plans for himself and his family.

“He had just started to build his own house down the road from our home.

“He was planning to buy a car and make a good life for his wife and child,” said Khanyisa Nqongophele, Bongani’s sister.

He had a five-year-old child, Anga.

When he was at home, he loved nothing more than to play with the children and to tend to his father’s cattle.

“Every December, the whole family would come home. I don’t know how it will be this year with our father gone and now our youngest brother.

“This is very painful,” said Khanyisa, who cried as she spoke.

– Athandiwe Saba

Ntandazo Nokhamba (36)

Ntandazo had been a machine operator at the Lonmin mine since 2006.

Back at his home village of Ngcolorha in Libode, Eastern Cape, his uncle Madaka Nokhamba remembers a man who respected traditional customs and behaviour.

“Every time he came home the first thing he did was to go to every home in this village and let people know that he was home. He was a disciplined boy who followed in our footsteps,” he said.

Ntandazo’s older brother Malokwane admitted that the day he heard his brother had passed he “wept bitterly”.

He said: “He was a big part of this village. He loved the youth. Last time he was here he said he would buy the highest scoring (village) player a pair of soccer boots.

That was his last promise to the kids,” said Malokwane.

Ntandazo’s sister Nophelo said: “He spent three years in Johannesburg looking for work.

“We prayed every day that he would be finally hired. He was the father of this home.

“Though I’m widowed he still took care of me and my family. He also took care of his elder brother’s family.

“We have nothing without my brother. It has been very difficult without him.

“My mother even tried to hang herself after she heard the news. She is distraught.”

Ntandazo was married to Nosakhe Nokhamba and they had five children: Khuselwa (13), Siziphiwe (11), Liyabonga (7), Zozibini (2) and Elam (1).

– Anthandiwe Saba

Fezile Saphendu (23)

Fezile left his quiet village of Kwayimani in Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape two years ago to find work at the mine.

“He was such a hard-working boy. He passed so well in Grade 12 but, unfortunately, he didn’t have the money to study further. That’s why he decided to go work at that mine,” said his sister-in-law, Noingilane Saphendu.

Fezile was a “people person” who always had advice for others.

“He wanted to become a social worker. He would have been very good at it. He had a talent for dealing with people,“ said Noingilane.

The family members gathered on the lawn in front of Fezile’s newly painted home fondly remembered his antics.

“When he came home, he used to buy us all these sweet things.

“Anything we asked for here at home he would provide. He loved biscuits and sweets,” laughed Nokulunga Saphendu, another sister-in-law.
“I would be satisfied if my brother-in-law had been ill.

“If we at least had time to say goodbye to him…but for him to be taken away from us like this, we will never heal,” said Nokulunga.

She said although Fezile’s father had had two wives and many children, Fezile loved all his siblings equally.

– Athandiwe Saba

Nkosiyabo Xalabile (31)

Nkosiyabo worked side by side with his younger brother, Mandlenkosi (25), at the Lonmin mine.

The brothers are from Manganyela near Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape.

Mandlenkosi remembers his older brother as someone he could talk to, always depend on and who would protect him.

They stood together on strike at Marikana from day one of the labour action. Mandlenkosi remembered trying to find his brother on the day of the shooting. He was nowhere to be found.

Then all of a sudden he said he felt very cold.

“I just became so thirsty. My heartbeat became very irregular, and at the pit of my stomach I knew he was gone even before our pastor, at her house, told me she found his name on the deceased list in the hospital,” he said.

Nkosiyabo leaves behind his young wife, Lilitha, whom he married in a green-and-white wedding in July.

He was a religious man and an avid churchgoer.

He loved soccer and was a part-time coach of a team called the Eleven Strikers.

His mother, Nonezile, found it hard to talk. She said her son loved her beyond words.

Now all Nkosiyabo’s responsibilities rest on the shoulders of his younger brother.

– Athandiwe Saba

Mphangeli Thukuza (42)

In the small Transkei village of Nquba, Mphangeli had a big reputation. He was a respected Pondo man with two wives and six children living in a beautiful village home.

Local men speak of Mphangeli’s charm and smooth talking – especially with women.

He earned respect as he was able to provide for his large family and was working towards buying a car. His three brothers sang his praises.

“He was a good man and worked hard. Those two wives, whom he loved dearly, are really hurting,” said brother Jamela Thukuza.

“He did everything for them with his own money and all that is gone. It is painful because we have also lost a brother and our father has lost a son. We fear his death may have brought poverty to his house,” said Jamela.

Mphangeli’s brothers also work on mines in North West.

They demand that a relative continue their brother’s legacy by taking his job as an operator at Lonmin.

– Thanduxolo Jika

Hassan Duncan Fundi (46)

Hassan Fundi was one of the security guards working for Lonmin. He was killed five days before police opened fire on the protesting miners.

Hassan’s wife, Aisha, with whom he lived in a suburb of Rustenburg, told City Press this week that she could not reveal any information about her husband, or provide a picture of him, before a family meeting to be held at the weekend.

However, according to reports at the time, Hassan and his colleague, Frans Matlhomola Mabelane, were burned to death on the Saturday and mine officials only discovered their bodies the following Monday.

One of them had been reportedly shot dead – five times in his upper body – allegedly by striking mine workers, and the other had been hacked.

– Nicki Güles

Sello Lepaaku (45)

Warrant Officer Sello was allegedly hacked to death by striking Lonmin workers.

He was buried at Seabo Village in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga, on August 19.

Sello’s family and his widow, Petunia, were too grief-stricken to speak to City Press.

However, at his funeral, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega described him as a hero and a “dedicated officer with integrity”.

His commanding officer said he was a disciplined, quiet man who worked hard.

Sello, a policeman of 24 years’ standing, was attached to the public order policing unit at Phokeng, North West.

His family battled to retain their composure at the grave site during the officer’s salute and even Phiyega shed tears.

– Sizwe Sama Yende

Tsietsi Monene (47)

Career police officer Tsietsi reportedly died from gashes all over his body and two holes in his chest. His face had been hacked, allegedly by miners.

Tsietsi, a warrant officer with 21 years’ experience, was connected to the Mpumalanga public order policing unit.

His unnamed cousin – who spoke at the funeral of Warrant Officer Sello Lepaaku, with whom Tsietsi died – said he had been told by a police officer that Tsietsi died because his colleagues had been too far away to help him.

“A policeman who was in the Nyala (with Tsietsi’s group) told me he had to fight to keep the door closed because they wanted to come in and kill him too,” The Star reported the cousin saying.

Tsietsi leaves behind five children – aged between 12 and 23 – and a grandson. He is survived by his wife, also a police officer, his mother, a brother and a sister. – Nicki Güles

Makhosandile Mkhonjwa (29)

Makhosandile toiled in the mines to realise his one dream: to build his family a beautiful home in Madiba Village in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape.

Makhosandile cared for a family of 10 people, including his two children who are still at school.

His wife, Nokwanela Phakathi, said he was going to build a house for the family – including his mother – as their traditional rondavels could no longer withstand heavy rains and extreme weather.

She had no idea how they were going to survive now that he was dead.

“Things were tough even when he was still alive, but we could survive. We are left with nothing. We buried his father in March and now it is him. There is no man to take care of the family. They have taken the only person we were relying on,” said Nokwanela.

Makhosandile left his village in 2007, only kilometres away from the village home of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, in search of a job at the mines.

The barren rooms of the family’s home tells its own story of a history of daily struggles.

Makhosandile was a staunch churchgoer who, says his family, was loving, kind and never got involved in violence.

– Thanduxolo Jika [read more]

Oilgate,UN, Motlanthe and Sexwale


The presidency has released the Donen Commission Report into the “Oilgate Scandal”. Or, if you prefer, the investigation into whether South African laws were broken during the United Nations Oil for Food scandal. It’s long and complicated. Feel free to read it yourself. Or let STEPHEN GROOTES do it for you.

Oilgate is like a mini-Arms Deal; it hangs around. It started so long ago that no one really remembers how it began, but it sounds bad – and occasionally you hear a reverberation that seems to have a massive resonance to our current situation. It is one of those never-ending scandals that allow some among us to lump everyone in the ANC in a “they’re bad” camp. Well, unfortunately, it’s actually a lot more complicated. But we’ll start with the recent history, and then go back.

In November President Jacob Zuma announced that he would release the Donen Commission Report into whether any laws were broken in South Africa during the United Nations sanctions on Iraq and the Oil for Food Programme. At the time, we – and I include myself in this – immediately pounced and suggested Zuma’s decision was really related to politics future, rather than politics past. Because the conventional wisdom has always been that Kgalema Motlanthe and Tokyo Sexwale were involved in Oilgate, we claimed that this was a move to take them out of the running for Mangaung. I think now, upon reflection, and speaking only for myself, and based on the Donen report, that I might have been wrong.

Now for the real backstory. After Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, the UN imposed sanctions on Iraq. Then they were allowed to sell oil, for cash money, through a scheme monitored by the UN. Countries were given allocations, and companies from those countries were allowed to buy the oil. At some point Motlanthe went to Iraq, partly to broker these deals. Before you jump to conclusions, we had warm relations with the country; he was ANC secretary-general and it wasn’t the evil deed that it might sound like. Sexwale, meanwhile, was a director of a company called Mocoh Trading. It got a few contracts under the Oil for Food Programme.

Then president Thabo Mbeki decided, in 2006, to investigate. Part of the reason was because there was a storm about how part of this cash was funneled through a South African company called Imvume and the parastatal Petro-SA into the ANC’s bank account. Just before the 2004 elections, when it really needed it. Advocate Michael Donen was the commissioner leader. He started to investigate. But just as he was about to start taking oral testimony, one of the people he was looking at went to court and said he didn’t have the power to subpoena. At the same time, the commission’s operating time was up, and Mbeki decided not to prolong it. So it ended there.

All that was left was two reports, and a letter. The reports, and we must stress this, are interim reports. They are not final reports. In 2009 it was reported that Motlanthe and Sexwale were named in alleged wrongdoing by the commission. Independent Newspapers then started legal proceedings to see the reports. And just when things were getting interesting, we hit November, and Zuma decided to release them.

So finally, they are now in the open.

You would think that a report about the international arms trade, sanctions busting, Iraqi dictators and former Robben Islanders would make for fascinating reading. You would be wrong.

Much of the documents (+-250 pages of them) is taken up with an analysis of an earlier probe. The United Nations had conducted its own investigation, and that evidence is obviously the focal point of this commission.

Let’s start with Motlanthe. The UN investigation, led by former Fed Chair Paul Volker and including one Judge Richard Goldstone, suggests, when referring to him, that Motlanthe “probably knew of the conspiracy”. The “conspiracy” relates to the paying of bribes, or surcharges as they were called to the Iraqis to secure oil. This was a scheme by the Iraqis to drum up more cash; the surcharges were paid above the oil-costs agreed to by the UN. However, Donen says, “The apparent response of Motlanthe, upon first being informed of the surcharge levy, was one of indignation”. He was under the impression he’d been on a political mission to help lift the sanctions on Iraq (politics being what it was at the time). There is more evidence that he wrote a letter to the Iraqis expressing this indignation.

Donen says the only reason he investigated Motlanthe at all is because of the UN inquiry’s comment. Without it, Motlanthe would not have been a person of interest. And he goes on to say that that reports “casts an unambiguous innuendo on Motlanthe”. Donen’s pretty annoyed with the UN for this; he sees it as completely unwarranted.

Sexwale is slightly more complicated. He was, well, duped. There was an international oil trader, certain Mr Hacking, who essentially used his name and his prestige. They set up a firm together to trade this oil. Sexwale believed this company was getting part of South Africa’s oil allocation and the oil could come back here. Instead, his business partner took the oil and sold it to someone else. So South Africa’s allocation went elsewhere. In short, Sexwale was exploited. And he didn’t really know that this was happening. It’s tempting to have a good kick in his direction here. But, in his defense, he hadn’t been in business long at the time, and he wasn’t the only one duped in this way.

In all, the report doesn’t have too much to say about Motlanthe and Sexwale; their names appear only a few times in what is quite a long series of documents. Much of the report is taken up by an examination of the different roles various firms played. Except that none of them are based in South Africa, and as a result, cannot be prosecuted here. In the recommendations, the report says our law needs to be tightened up so that we cannot be used for sanctions busting again. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Our customs officials are not world-renowned for their efficiency at the best of times, and stopping South African flagged ships on the high seas is going to be complicated.

What about the letter, you may ask. It was written by Donen after the media reports emerged claiming Motlanthe and Sexwale were accused of wrongdoing. He wrote to the presidency, helpfully indicating which parts of his reports cleared the two. It was a brief idiots guide to his report, to help them respond. Nothing more to it than that.

In the final analysis, writing this after reading this dense technical report a grand total of once, it would appear that both Motlanthe and Sexwale have a right to feel aggrieved. Their names have been tarnished through speculation. On the one side, it’s what happens in politics. And if you want to get involved in the international oil business with Iraqi dictators, accidents will happen.

But perhaps the biggest lesson for us all is that this is what happens when documents are kept “secret”. When parts of a document are leaked, they will be used against people. And before you think I sound a little like Siyabonga Cwele, my answer to this problem would surely be – with the benefit of 20/20 vision hindsight – to have released the report as soon as the hullabaloo began.

In a way this whole thing may have been over-hyped. The presidency stresses it’s an interim document so conclusions should not be drawn from it. You would think it was incendiary. It isn’t. And surely this is really good example of how politically important documents should not be kept secret for the sake of keeping them secret. It really should have been released years ago


South African Competition Commission: unredacted final Report on Banking:Uncensored



Decrypted, unredacted 590 page report on the South African banking industry. Redacted parts were released on 12 Dec 2008 by the South African Competition Commision here: http://www.compcom.co.za/banking/technical%20report.htm

Using technical methods, Wikileaks has decrypted and removed the redactions from all of the report appart from a few images. The previously redacted regions, are shown in blue highlight.

The Competition Commission has the power to put some regulatory pressure on the banks to eg. lower fees & pay fines should the report find that the banks have formed a cartel with their exorbitant fees and unfair business practices. This report is important as it might explain why Banking fees in South Africa are so extremely high.



Lonmin PLC UK based :."Storming" the Local Companies the UK style

Yesterday 16/8/2012 we were all overwhelmed by the UK government threats towards the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.Those threats constitute a war act against another nation which,by the way,committed no crime but to provide asylum to a persecuted person as all civilized nations would do.Yesterday the UK based mining company Lonmin PLC  with the help of the local police,killed 34 workers who were on strike which is one more NON NEGOTIABLE right of any human being(since animals can’t work)

Yesterday UK government proved that it doesn’t give a damn about human life,human rights,laws and international treaties that IT had signed at first place


Comments are welcome,trolling isn’t,thank you


Here is the company’s profile. Enjoy.


Company overview
Lonmin (formerly Lonrho PLC) is the world’s third largest primary producer of Platinum Group Metals. The group operates in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company was incorporated in the United Kingdom on 13 May 1909 as the London and Rhodesian Mining Company Limited. On 26 July 2008 the assets of Lonrho were demerged. Two publicly listed companies, Lonrho plc and Lonrho Africa plc were created – the former retaining all the non-African businesses and mining assets. In 1999 Lonrho PLC was renamed as Lonmin plc and a new era as a focused mining company began. Since then it has divested itself of all non-core assets.
HL Comment (14 November 2011)
London headquartered Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer announced its final results for the year ended 30 September earlier today, 14 November. A strong performance was registered by the group with platinum sales totalling 721,000 ounces, meeting its 2011 sales target. This was despite a strike at its Karee operations that forced the company to cut output targets and drive up unit costs. The outcome saw Lonmin dismiss 9,000 workers. Capital expenditure to support the future growth of the business was $410 million in the 2011 financial year. Expenditure in 2012 is planned at around $450 million to enable the miner to develop sufficient ore reserves to help attain its long term production target of 950,000 ounces of platinum per year. Revenues climbed to $1.99 billion, while underlying profit before tax was up 32.9% to $315 million. Both figures were at the higher end of market forecasts. Management expressed caution and market unpredictability in the short term outlook with the objective to being prepared to respond to more favourable conditions in the medium and longer term.

Negative Points:

The group’s operations and future projects are based in South Africa. The company is subsequently exposed to government and regulatory-related risks in South Africa.
Lonmin is a single commodity company and therefore displays greater earnings risk than a diversified metals and mining company.
The miner’s safety record has been in the spotlight with 6 fatalities recorded since the beginning of its 2011 financial year.
Operational disruption caused by workforce issues presented challenges for the group. During the year, ten production days were lost because of an illegal strike at its Karee operations.

Positive Points:

Lonmin targets sales of 750,000 platinum ounces in 2012, with the longer term goal to achieve its optimal capacity of 950,000 platinum ounces.
Platinum, besides being universally used in jewellery, is also used in catalytic converters that cut pollution from car exhausts.
The board recommended a final dividend of 15 cents per share, unchanged from last year.
Xstrata PLC, the global diversified mining group retained a 24.9% stake in Lonmin, following a failed takeover bid in 2008.

On balance, market consensus indicates a hold. Read the rest of the article

34 killed in South Africa mine shooting

Personal note : the people should be storming some embassies instead of putting up with provocative threats like the UK one towards Ecuador.Enough is Enough.Oh and let’s see who is mining in the death scene

South African police killed 34 people in a shooting at a mine in North West province, the country’s police chief says.

Officers shot at the workers who were protesting on Thursday afternoon over pay at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, some 100km northwest of Johannesburg.

The incident, which police said was an act of self defence, appears to be one of the bloodiest police operations since the end of white-minority rule in 1994 in Africa’s biggest economy.

Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega, speaking at a news conference on Friday, also said 78 people had been injured and 259 arrested in Thursday’s violence.

“The police members had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group,” she said.

“This no time for blaming, this is not time for finger pointing. It is a time for us to mourn a sad and dark moment we experience as a country.”

In an earlier statement, the South African Police Service said its officers were “viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms. The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self-defence, were forced to engage the group with force”.

Zweli Mnisi, the police ministry spokesman, said an investigation into the shooting has begun. Labour unions and political parties, including the ruling ANC, called for an independent inquiry.

Police investigators and forensic experts, meanwhile, combed the scene of the shooting, watched by about 100 people on Friday.

South African media said that there was no more violence reported in the area overnight.

Read More

Anthrax in South Africa: Economics, Experiment and the Mass Vaccination of Animals, 1910–1945


During 1923, the South African government began to issue free vaccine for the immunization of cattle against anthrax. Five years later, it introduced compulsory annual vaccination in parts of the Transkeian Territories, an area reserved for occupation by Africans. Thereafter, the state sought to extend both compulsory and discretionary vaccination. In 1942, scientists at the government’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute announced that they had issued 6 million doses of vaccine during the previous year. Approximately half the cattle in the country were being immunized annually with a special product which scientists at the Institute had recently devised.1 The scale of vaccination was unprecedented within the country and the annual issue of anthrax vaccine far surpassed the amount supplied for any other animal disease. It was a major state intervention in rural society. Nevertheless, vaccination against anthrax in South Africa is absent from the historiography, while published contemporary accounts are few.2

The history of anthrax control in South Africa, which concerns public policy and technical innovation, relates to the wider historiography of medicine, science and technology in the British Empire. If Daniel Headrick has interpreted various innovations in science and medicine as “tools of empire”, which enabled colonists to conquer indigenous populations and overcome hostile environmental conditions,3 historians have more recently been concerned with the ways in which western medicine assisted colonial administrations in extending social control over the colonized.4 Medical science underpinned militaristic public health policies and sanitary measures, in which vaccination, particularly against smallpox, at times played a significant part.5 In Africa, such interventions sometimes disrupted long-established methods of disease control based on environmental regulation, with disastrous results for the health of the colonized.6

In South Africa too, historians have been concerned with the relation of racially biased medical institutions, public policies and private practice to the imposition and development of segregation and apartheid.7 In this regard, however, Harriet Deacon has suggested a contradiction between the analysis of western medicine as a means by which the state extended control over Africans and the argument that Africans have suffered because they have been excluded from the benefits to health that it has potentially offered.8

A similar contradiction is evident in the rather scant historiography of state veterinary services and science in South Africa (and elsewhere in the continent).9 While more detailed accounts of veterinary scientists and their activities have begun to emerge,10 veterinary science has been interpreted generally as a means of enabling white “settler” stock farmers to overcome problems of production posed by disease and environment, or even as an indirect subsidy to enable them to overcome competition from African producers.11 Historians have also focused on political conflict associated with state interventions aimed at controlling rinderpest and East Coast fever among African-owned cattle, arguing that these epizootics were occasions on which the state sought to extend political and social control over Africans.12 The extension of veterinary services to African-owned stock through vaccination against anthrax is, however, incongruent with these interpretations of state policy. While it may be argued that state attempts to control anthrax in African areas were intended to benefit white stock farming by tackling possible sources of infection, the idea that state veterinary services operated simply for its benefit needs to be qualified. The motivation for the extension of state veterinary services to African areas, and the way it functioned in practice, requires further analysis. I argue that mass vaccination in African areas, made possible by the operation of bureaucratic regulatory systems and asymmetrical power relations in a racially segregated society, was an important means by which state-employed veterinary scientists acquired knowledge about the disease and evaluated innovations in vaccine technology.

During the 1920s, officials in the Department of Agriculture became increasingly concerned about the threat of restrictions upon pastoral exports from South Africa because of their contamination with anthrax. In response, government vets promoted and later enforced vaccination against the disease, but for various reasons the practice was unsatisfactory as a method of prevention and control. This led to a period of experiment during which South African veterinary scientists sought to develop improved vaccines through technological innovation. The compulsory vaccination of African-owned cattle provided a means of obtaining a statistical basis for the evaluation of these new methods and products.13 Laboratory investigations and field vaccination, with associated state-enforced regulations, were thus components of an experimental system in which the results obtained by vets in the field informed both technological adjustment and social policy.14 Vaccination against anthrax in African-occupied areas such as the Transkei, carried out under the control of state officials, was a means of testing a technology which was eventually used throughout South Africa and more widely around the world. I examine experimental method in the investigation of anthrax and the development of the vaccine in some detail. This article is therefore intended to contribute to the historiography of scientific practice in bacteriology and immunology during the 1920s and 1930s.15

The first part provides context by describing the establishment and growth of state veterinary institutions and services as a response to problems of disease. In the second part, I describe how officials became increasingly concerned with the prevention and control of anthrax during the early 1920s, particularly in the context of international attempts to protect workers in the textile industry from the danger of contaminated wool and hair. In the third part, I examine veterinary ideas about the nature of anthrax in South Africa and attempts at control up to the 1930s, showing how the compulsory mass vaccination of African-owned cattle became an important component of state policy. Government veterinary scientists, however, emphasized various perceived peculiarities of anthrax in the region and argued that these limited the value of imported technological systems during a period when the practice of vaccination greatly expanded. The final section analyses laboratory experiments and technical innovations, the use of statistical studies obtained through compulsory mass vaccination and the further extension of the practice.
Go to:
The Animal Economy and Veterinary Institutions

Domestic animals provided an important source of food and traction for the indigenous peoples of southern Africa and the early Dutch colonists at the Cape. From the 1820s, when the British government actively encouraged immigration to the Cape of Good Hope, pastoral production became increasingly commercialized. The new colonists imported wool-producing merino sheep, which thrived in the semi-arid Karoo and in parts of the Eastern Cape. As production increased rapidly through the mid-nineteenth century, wool became the Cape’s major export, its sale on the British markets drawing the colony into the international economy. Later, wool exports were substantially supplemented by the production of mohair from angora goats, another settler import. While the expansion of diamond mining from the 1870s, and gold mining from the 1890s, transformed southern African societies, the exploitation of minerals did not displace pastoralism as a pillar of South Africa’s economy until after the mid-twentieth century.16 Furthermore, the urbanization which followed the large-scale exploitation of minerals created markets for meat and dairy products, further stimulating the growth of commercial pastoralism. During the late nineteenth century, parts of the Eastern Cape became important centres for cattle farming and dairying, while colonial pastoralists sought to develop ranch-style beef production on the grasslands of the Northern Cape and, from the early twentieth century, in the adjoining parts of the Western Transvaal.17 White commercial pastoral farming was therefore a major concern of the South African government throughout the period under review.

The expansion of commercial pastoralism, however, was neither continuous nor without problems. From the 1870s, colonist farmers, particularly in the wetter, eastern parts of the Cape and in Natal, became increasingly convinced that stock diseases presented serious obstacles to the expansion of animal numbers. The population of sheep and angora goats in some of the Eastern Cape districts began to decline very rapidly during the 1870s and the concerns of farmers resulted in the appointment of the first government veterinary surgeon in the Cape during 1876, following a similar appointment in Natal. Farmers who gave evidence to the Cape’s Stock Diseases Commission of 1877 described how mysterious diseases had destroyed many flocks. The early government vets sought to investigate these diseases, but the small number of appointments, together with a heavy administrative burden, meant that they made little progress in this direction until the end of the nineteenth century.18

The African rinderpest epidemic, which reached southern Africa in 1896 and threatened to devastate cattle holdings, was a major impetus to the expansion of veterinary services. Thereafter, additional professional appointments at the Cape enabled state-employed veterinary scientists to engage in more systematic research.19 Following British victory over the Afrikaner republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State in the South African War (1899–1901), Lord Alfred Milner supervised the reconstruction of the defeated states, with the objective of a unified South Africa.20 Milner, a prime exponent of constructive imperialism, was committed to harnessing science to the development of “settler” commercial agriculture, a policy which was accompanied by the exclusion of African peasant producers. He set up a modernizing Department of Agriculture, including the Swiss-trained veterinary scientist Arnold Theiler to undertake research.21 A British vet, Stewart Stockman, was appointed to lead a veterinary department consisting largely of British-trained practitioners, the major function of which was the control of infectious and contagious diseases in the field.22

In 1902, the highly virulent tick-borne disease of cattle, East Coast fever, broke out in the Transvaal. Over the next ten years, it spread throughout the Transvaal lowveld, Natal, the Transkei and into the Eastern Cape, where the environmental conditions supported the tick vector. East Coast fever, which produced morbidity and mortality rates above 90 per cent, threatened to destroy the cattle industry of South Africa and made state veterinary services indispensable. It provoked a vigorous, if sometimes politically controversial response from the Transvaal’s new veterinary department, which was based on an extensive regulatory system consisting of the dipping of cattle against ticks, movement embargoes, quarantines and sometimes the destruction of the infected herd. East Coast fever remained a major preoccupation of the veterinary department until it was finally eradicated from South Africa during the 1950s.23

Throughout the 1900s, Arnold Theiler conducted research into various aspects of East Coast fever, which provided the knowledge base for control measures. He was rewarded, in 1908, with modern laboratory facilities at Onderstepoort, about ten miles north of Pretoria. Following the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the Onderstepoort Veterinary Bacteriological Laboratories, later the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, became the centre for veterinary research throughout South Africa. Theiler oversaw the inauguration of a veterinary faculty as part of the University of Pretoria in 1920, which awarded degrees and doctorates in veterinary medicine. Thus began a period during which the veterinary profession was increasingly “South Africanized” and the pursuit of research became less dependent on imported expertise. By the 1930s, veterinary appointees were typically white, male South Africans, frequently the sons of farmers. Theiler retired in 1927 and a new director, Petrus Johann du Toit, an Afrikaner, was appointed as his replacement. Du Toit’s appointment was accompanied by a significant bureaucratic reorganization, as the veterinary field services were now formally brought under Onderstepoort’s control. Du Toit thus took charge of the overall formulation of veterinary policy and field activities, as well as research.24

As East Coast fever was gradually controlled during the 1910s, the research agenda at Onderstepoort diversified. Given the increasingly segregationist nature of South African society, the overall direction of research was determined largely by the concerns of white farmers. A series of groundbreaking studies in plant toxicology, botulism in animals and nutrition, which were of wider relevance to pastoralism throughout the world than the early work on “tropical animal diseases”, such as East Coast fever, brought the Institute to international prominence during the 1920s. Immunological studies, many of which adapted technological innovations made in metropolitan countries, were an important component of research during the 1930s. Veterinary scientists working at Onderstepoort released vaccines against the insect-borne viral diseases African horsesickness and bluetongue (sheep) and against anthrax. These vaccines and associated technologies were exported to other parts of the British Empire and beyond, further bolstering the reputation of the Institute abroad and enabling it to take an increasingly prominent part in the “polycentric communications network” of international veterinary science.25
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Anthrax and the Origins of an Economic Problem

The origins of anthrax in South Africa are obscure, but by at least the mid-nineteenth century the disease was familiar to Anglophone farmers and Dutch pastoralists, who called it “miltziekte” (spleen sickness) because of the swollen spleen which they found on post-mortem examination. The British vets employed as government officials in the Cape Colony and Natal during the 1870s were also familiar with this fatal disease. The first government vet at the Cape, William Catton Branford, saw cases of anthrax shortly after his appointment in 1876. He advised farmers not to dismember the carcasses, but to bury them intact with quicklime to prevent the contamination of the pasture with the anthrax organism.26

During the 1890s, the Cape government vets perceived anthrax as an increasingly serious and widespread hazard. Otto Henning, a state-employed vet who worked in the commercial cattle-ranching areas of the Northern Cape and British Bechuanaland (annexed to the Cape in 1895), thought the disease was gaining a significant hold and that some farms had become badly contaminated. Following the British victory in the South African War in 1901, newly-appointed veterinary officials found that contiguous parts of the Western Transvaal, an area which Milner’s reconstruction government had prioritized for the development of settler cattle farming, had acquired an “evil reputation” for anthrax among local farmers.27 The vets also became increasingly concerned about the prevalence of the disease along the roads between the ports of the Eastern Cape and the Transkei. Both white and African transport riders, the vets claimed, frequently left anthrax carcasses unburied were they had fallen, causing long-term contamination. Some “outspans” on the transport riding routes were allegedly hotbeds of infection.28

During the 1910s, government vets became convinced that the large majority of anthrax cases went unreported and that the disease was far more common than the official statistics suggested.29 In this regard, the intensified veterinary supervision that followed the imposition of the East Coast fever regulations (which required the submission of blood smears for every cattle death in proclaimed areas) in the Transkei during 1910 enabled officials to gain a clearer insight. The number of cases detected rose dramatically after the imposition of the regulations,30 and a similar increase followed the proclamation of the Eastern Cape districts of Kingwilliamstown and East London shortly afterwards.31 The vets believed that without the regulations most of these outbreaks would have gone undetected, and speculated that closer inspection would reveal a similar picture in other parts of the country.32 Nevertheless, the annual number of reported deaths from anthrax remained quite small. During 1920, for example, 1,891 outbreaks of the disease were reported in South Africa, killing just over 6,000 cattle.33 While the number of deaths was small as a percentage of the overall population of approximately 6 million cattle, the vets emphasized the potential for the disease to contaminate farms and make them unworkable. Throughout the 1910s they accordingly pressed for the enforcement of measures of control.34

The initial motivation for a more thorough policy of control and prevention after 1920, however, lay in the threat anthrax posed to human health abroad.35 In Britain and America there was, during the 1910s, continuing concern about the small but persistent number of cases of anthrax infection among workers handling imported wool and hair. The chief danger was the inhalation of the anthrax organism, which caused the potentially fatal “woolsorters’” disease. During 1916, the United States government promulgated regulations requiring the disinfection of animal products from regions in which anthrax was prevalent.36 The American consul immediately refused to certify hides from the Transvaal, effectively closing the American market to South African producers.37

With regard to Britain, the major export market for South African wool and mohair, the situation was potentially more serious. In 1910, the Anthrax Investigation Board of Bradford detected anthrax in samples of bloodstained South African mohair.38 A Departmental Committee on anthrax (appointed in 1914) recommended the construction of a pilot disinfection plant to treat wool and mohair from countries in which contamination was likely.39 It also evaluated the prevalence of anthrax and measures for its control in the exporting colonies. The Committee found that the situation in Australia and New Zealand was satisfactory, but the lack of efficient controls in Egypt and India meant that their products would require disinfection.40 The position with regard to South Africa was less clear. The Committee found that “the state of civilisation” there was sufficient for anthrax to be “stamped out”, but “the desirability of applying disinfection would have to be considered”.41

Given the importance of wool and other pastoral exports to the South African economy, the perceived threat to trade caused some alarm among the South African government. Officials in the Department of Agriculture calculated that should Britain impose compulsory disinfection, the estimated surcharge of around one and a half pence per pound in weight of wool would entail a cost of over £1,000,000 per annum to producers.42 Furthermore, they were in danger of being excluded from the group of settler colonies and classified with India and Egypt, a prospect that fitted ill with the government’s “progressive” and segregationist ideology. In 1918, a Central Wool Committee, set up under Barney Enslin, the head of the Division of Sheep, was extremely critical of current practices in the wool trade, in which fleeces were stored indiscriminately with blood-stained cattle hides, believed to be the major source of infection.43 The Department of Agriculture, anxious to publicize the anthrax problem, issued a press circular emphasizing the threat to producers.44 At the same time the Chief Veterinary Surgeon, Charles Gray, warned that, “Unless stock owners bestir themselves and take this disease more seriously, it is more than likely that other countries will place an embargo upon the introduction of animal products from South Africa, which will react detrimentally upon the prosperity of the farmer”.45

At the Colonial Office, Lord Milner, who had supervised the construction of a unified South African state, was apparently anxious that the colony’s products should continue to be exempt from disinfection. He sought assurances from the Governor-General that South Africa was doing everything in its power to ensure the prevention and eradication of anthrax.46 When the disinfection plant, which was situated in Liverpool, came into operation in July 1921, Egyptian and Indian wool and goat hair were subject to compulsory disinfection, while South African products remained for the time being exempt.47 Nevertheless, the problem of the contamination of South African products remained. In November 1922, the Colonial Office warned the Governor-General that investigators had detected the anthrax organism in Cape mohair on eleven occasions between September 1921 and August 1922.48

After the First World War, efforts to protect textile workers against infection became internationalized. The International Labour Office set up an Anthrax Commission to investigate the disease around the world. In 1922, the Commission, which was attended by the Cape’s Senior Veterinary Officer, Rowland Dixon,49 reported that the Liverpool disinfection plant had been successful in reducing the incidence of infection and recommended the establishment of other plants in producing countries where anthrax was prevalent. South African mohair was mentioned specifically as a likely source of infection.50 Dixon returned to South Africa urging the need to instigate more effective measures of control. In fact, the threat of compulsory disinfection declined from the mid-1920s, as the British Treasury resisted further expenditure on the Liverpool plant and the International Labour Commission failed to pass a convention requiring universal disinfection of wool and hair, instead concentrating on the threat posed by contaminated cattle hides.51 Nevertheless, in 1928 Petrus du Toit, as the newly appointed head of South Africa’s veterinary services, warned of the continued vigilance of the health section of the League of Nations. Compulsory disinfection would, he reiterated, impose a substantial cost on South African producers.52 If the threat of embargoes faded by the 1930s, however, officials in South Africa continued to stress the potential of the disease to contaminate pastures, and anthrax remained a major veterinary preoccupation.
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The Veterinary Conception of “South African Anthrax” and Control to the 1930s

The framing of regulations aimed at the control of anthrax in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries depended on contemporary understandings of the causal organism, Bacillus anthracis, which had been extensively investigated by Robert Koch during the late 1870s.53 As an infected animal approached death, its blood swarmed with millions of the bacilli in the vegetative (multiplicative) form. Once it died, the conditions necessary for the multiplication of the bacilli failed. At moderate temperatures and in the presence of free oxygen, they transformed into inert, highly resistant spores. As the carcass disintegrated, the spores, which could remain viable for an indeterminate period, were deposited on the pasture. If spores entered the blood-stream of a grazing animal through abrasions in the mouth or alimentary tract, they returned to the vegetative state, setting up fatal disease and repeating the cycle of infection and contamination. Anthrax, however, was not considered a contagious disease which passed directly from an infected to a healthy animal.54

The South African Stock Diseases Act of 1911, which consolidated existing legislation in the various colonies relating to anthrax (and other contagious and infectious animal diseases), was drafted to deal with the ability of Bacillus anthracis to contaminate through sporulation.55 The regulations required owners to report all suspicious deaths to the police or veterinary officials and to submit a blood smear, taken from a small cut in the ear, for laboratory examination. They expressly forbade the opening or dismemberment of the carcass for meat, as this would lead to sporulation and the contamination of the pasture. Owners were required to cremate the carcass promptly or to bury it deeply with quicklime. If the smear tested positive, owners were required to fence off the immediate area to prevent the infection of other animals. As the incubation period of anthrax was short, vets enforced only a brief quarantine to detect associated cases.56

These aspects of the South African regulations were based largely upon the British model, which insisted on the control of anthrax by hygienic measures without recourse to Pasteurian vaccination.57 Since the rinderpest (cattle plague) epizootic of the mid-1860s, when this disease had been eradicated through the rigorous application of quarantine, slaughter and import embargoes, British veterinary policy had followed a particular trajectory. Based on what Michael Worboys has called “importation theory”,58 it aimed at the eradication of contagious and infectious diseases through slaughter and the prevention of reinfection through import embargoes. With regard to anthrax, this policy was the outcome of several factors which made eradication through hygienic measures an achievable aim. Anthrax was a relatively rare disease in Britain and the state had sufficient resources to detect cases. Furthermore, given the insular nature of the country, it was possible to prevent the importation of infected animals. Thus, the British veterinary authorities relied on hygienic measures and discouraged vaccination, which they believed could occasionally cause infection.59

By the early twentieth century, however, British-trained veterinary officials in South Africa were convinced that a policy of relying on hygiene alone would fail to control anthrax, given various local circumstances. In contrast to the British example, vaccination became an important element of public policy from the 1910s. There were several reasons for this, which related to the conditions of cattle production in the region and ideas about the nature of the disease itself. The vets considered that the strict enforcement of the regulations under the local conditions of predominantly extensive pastoralism in both white and African areas was impossible. The power of the state to detect outbreaks was limited by the relative weakness of its administration and policing on the ground. Vets working in the field knew from experience that many stockowners did not report cases if they thought these were likely to go undetected by officials. In this regard, the veterinary discussion of the nature of the anthrax problem assumed a distinctly racist tone. According to one government vet, Andrew Goodall, African stockowners were “in the front rank of all our transmitting agents”,60 while the senior vet, Philip Viljoen argued that, “There is unfortunately a further complication, namely, the native who, generally speaking, is careless in his farming methods and, above all, does not understand food hygiene”.61

Veterinary officials thought that there were three centres of particularly dense anthrax contamination: the Northern Cape districts, such as Vryburg, which had formerly been part of British Bechuanaland and which had been annexed to the Cape in 1895, the Transkei and the Witwatersrand.62 In all three areas, they associated anthrax infection with African-owned cattle and linked its persistence and spread to African practices. The key problem, the vets argued, was that in cases of anthrax Africans flouted the regulations by removing the saleable hide and cutting up the carcass for meat. The Irish veterinarian Daniel Kehoe, who studied anthrax in South Africa during the 1910s, reported that the disease was common along the Witwatersrand, a relatively urbanized area in which gold mining was the principal economic activity. As urbanization based on mining progressed, the increasing number of Africans living in compounds and locations along the Rand provided a growing market for milk and meat. Kehoe reported that there were many milch cows on unfenced plots around the African townships. When an animal died, he alleged, the owner typically evaded the municipal sanitary charge for disposal of the carcass by allowing “mine natives” to cut it up for meat. This, argued the vets, was an efficient means of disseminating anthrax infection across a comparatively densely populated area.63 These hides were a prime means of contaminating wool and mohair intended for export, while the practice of dismemberment allowed the sporulation and more widespread distribution of the bacilli.64 The vets, however, did not think that these practices were necessarily rooted in ignorance. Africans were familiar with the disease and seemingly aware of the dangers. According to the botanist, Andrew Smith (writing in the late nineteenth century), Africans rendered infected meat harmless by boiling it with certain herbs, such as Zanthoxylon capensis, then referred to as wild cardamom.65 The vets, however, had apparently little interest in investigating the possible disinfectant properties of these plants, even though they were uncertain whether boiling alone was always an effective means of sterilizing meat.66

Thus, while European farmers were not exonerated, veterinary officials tended to cast the problem of anthrax control as one which related particularly to Africans. In the reserves of the Northern Cape and the Transkei, where African stockowners grazed their herds on communal pastures, places where large numbers of cattle collected regularly, such as watering points, could become badly contaminated with anthrax spores. Veterinary policy makers believed that they lacked the resources to impose comprehensive measures of hygiene in African areas. In the words of one vet, the suppression of anthrax in areas occupied primarily or wholly by Africans “presents tremendous difficulties”, because of extensive communal pastures.67

Furthermore, in South Africa anthrax seemed to display particular characteristics. As in Britain, it appeared to be primarily a disease of cattle rather than sheep (as in France and Australia), although the vets admitted that cases in sheep would be difficult to detect under conditions of extensive farming.68 The contamination of fleeces probably resulted from contact with other materials, such as cattle hides, rather than from infection in the sheep. Thus, the vets thought that contamination of wool and mohair was a function of infection among cattle.69 The vets found a partial explanation for this in the grazing habits of the different species of domestic animals. On the grasslands of Griqualand West in the Northern Cape, where anthrax was common, cattle grazed the grass closely and were liable to pick up spores from the soil. Infection was more likely if prickly pear was present, because the spiny skins could puncture the mouths of grazing animals, thereby providing a means for spores to enter the bloodstream.70 In the Karoo, where the disease was virtually unknown, sheep fed upon the leaves of bushes away from the ground and were therefore less likely to ingest spores. The comparative frequency of infection in cattle was the subject of some speculation. Researchers at Onderstepoort found it difficult to infect cattle even by injecting very large amounts of virulent material, but infection was quite common in nature. It was possible that strains of extreme virulence existed in South Africa, which caused frequent outbreaks in the relatively resistant bovine.71 Thus, the species principally affected was of relatively high unit value, which tended to make vaccination an economically justifiable practice.

Vets in South Africa tended to stress the importance of environmental factors in the transmission and dissemination of anthrax. If British veterinarians regarded Bacillus anthracis as an “obligatory” parasite, propagating only in the living animal, little was known about how the organism behaved in nature. Given the appropriate environmental conditions, the vets speculated, it might be able to multiply outside the body. Watering holes were important locations for the transmission of the bacilli, which were possibly able to proliferate in damp soils, rich with decaying matter.72 Climate too seemed to have some bearing, as outbreaks were more common after the commencement of summer rains.73 While they agreed that the original source of contamination was the carcass of an infected animal, vets noted a tendency for the disease to spread along watercourses and surmised that flowing water carried spores downstream.74 Carrion-eating mammals and birds were highly resistant to anthrax, but they probably disseminated the spores over wide areas by depositing them in their excreta. While outbreaks were usually localized affairs that produced relatively few deaths, anthrax sometimes assumed an epidemic form, particularly among horses. This was especially the case in Griqualand West and the Western Orange Free State, where the horsefly (Hippobosca rufipes) proliferated. Vets believed that this fly could carry Bacillus anthracis rapidly beyond the immediate centre of infection, causing localized epidemics, a theory which had also been advanced in the United States.75 Given these observations, it seemed possible that Bacillus anthracis was not entirely dependent on the infected animal for propagation and transmission. The evidence suggested that slaughter and hygiene would not be an entirely effective method of controlling the disease.

These considerations meant that, as in much of Western Europe, Australia and United States, where anthrax was widely disseminated across extensive grasslands, vaccination was an important component of state veterinary strategy to control anthrax in South Africa. Unlike in Britain, veterinary officials actively encouraged the use of Pasteur’s vaccine to protect in-contact animals in individual outbreaks.76 Vaccine was first imported to the Cape from France in the early 1880s, soon after its initial demonstration, but the amount used remained small until the promulgation of the Stock Diseases Act of 1911, which empowered government vets to enforce the vaccination of in-contacts at the owner’s expense. Voluntary vaccination, however, was also increasingly popular among the stock-owning public, so that the annual issue of anthrax vaccine increased from around 40,000 doses in 1911 to 1,200,000 in 1920.77

Given the perceived threat of the compulsory disinfection of wool exports during the early 1920s, the state, now “prepared to do everything in its power to get the disease under proper control”, instigated a more determined policy of prevention based on the availability of sufficient effective vaccine.78 While veterinary scientists continued to stress the importance of hygienic measures, they increasingly encouraged vaccination, which expanded accordingly.79 Until 1915, Onderstepoort imported vaccine from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, but when the First World War interrupted the supply Theiler instructed Kehoe to initiate local production. During 1922, Theiler pressed for legislation giving Onderstepoort control of the supply of anthrax vaccine. As vaccination was now being carried out on a large scale, he argued, the South African farmer needed protection against unduly expensive and possibly defective imported products, which might introduce other infections. It was equally important to prevent the marketing of potentially dangerous vaccines by local amateurs.80 Regulations promulgated in 1923 empowered Onderstepoort to forbid the importation of any vaccine from abroad and to suppress local manufacture, a policy that was carried out vigorously.81 In effect, Onderstepoort obtained a monopoly of the supply of anthrax vaccine within the country.

If vets could oblige stockowners to vaccinate in-contact animals during any outbreak, by the early 1920s they believed that the cost of the vaccine tended to discourage farmers from reporting.82 To overcome this problem, the government began, from July 1923, to issue free vaccine to stockowners upon request.83 Thereafter the use of the vaccine increased rapidly, so that by 1925 Onderstepoort was issuing approximately 2.5 million doses annually.84 From the point of view of the veterinary field service, the issue of free vaccine considerably aided control by encouraging notification as required by the Act. The policy continued until 1936, by which time the vets believed that farmers were misusing or wasting large amounts and reintroduced a charge.85 Vaccine was still substantially subsidized, however, as the levy of two shillings and sixpence per hundred doses was a quarter of the estimated cost of production. After 1936, the Department of Native Affairs paid for the vaccination of African-owned stock, except in the Transkei, where it was funded out of the existing cattle-dipping tax.86 Policy towards the racial groups, however, was different, as vaccination of African-owned livestock was more tightly controlled, with government vets or stock inspectors performing the operation rather than the owners themselves.87

Furthermore, senior vets argued that, given the inadequacies of detection, the best method of control and prevention was the compulsory annual vaccination of all cattle in areas considered severely or extensively infected.88 During the 1920s and 1930s, however, the state enforced compulsory vaccination in African areas only. This was determined by the vets’ racially biased explanation of the incidence of anthrax and by asymmetric relations of political power between the state, its European constituency and disenfranchized Africans in a segregationist society. Compulsory vaccination was initially enforced across individual African locations during the 1920s at the behest of European farmers in Northern Cape districts such as Barkly West. Here African locations holding large numbers of cattle lay in close proximity to white commercial ranches.89

If local European concerns about disease “reservoirs” lay behind this piecemeal vaccination, a more systematic and overarching policy of “block” vaccination began to emerge in the late 1920s, particularly with regard to the Transkeian Territories. The execution of compulsory “block” vaccination was associated with John Nicol, a British-trained vet appointed, in 1928, Chief Veterinary Officer for the Transkei by Petrus du Toit, who was now in charge of field services. Since joining the Cape Veterinary Department in 1910, Nicol had accrued much experience of working among Africans and their stock in the Eastern Cape and the Transkei, where his major task had been the enforcement of the East Coast fever regulations. In August 1928, after consulting with the resident magistrate (the head administrative officer), Nicol began the inoculation of all the cattle in Engcobo, a district in the western Transkei which usually accounted for a quarter of the total number of cases detected in the Territories.90 Vaccination seems to have been politically uncontroversial and it was rarely mentioned in the discussions of the Transkei’s governing body, the General Council. Comment was favourable, apart from some discussion on how the costs should be allocated.91 Some Transkeian stockowners were already using free vaccine on a voluntary basis and there were the precedents of earlier inoculations against rinderpest and “lungsickness” (contagious bovine pleuropneumonia).92

The anthrax situation in the Transkei came to be of special interest to the vets because they believed that the operation of the East Coast fever regulations gave them a particularly accurate picture of the incidence of the disease there. The regulations, which had been in force in the Transkei since 1910, entailed a strong element of social control, limiting the free movement of cattle and enforcing regular insecticidal dipping.93 In 1929, du Toit and his colleagues at Onderstepoort, now formally directing field services, initiated a policy of “intensive control”, which required stock inspectors to take a regular two-weekly census of cattle in proclaimed areas, while blood smears for diagnostic examination were taken from any cattle that died or were slaughtered. The vets believed that as “intensive control” of East Coast fever would enable them to detect any cases of anthrax that occurred in the Transkei, they would obtain accurate data on the rate and distribution of infection.94

In this regard, the vets perceived compulsory vaccination in Engcobo to be an immediate success. Nicol reported that during the year following the introduction of immunization, the number of outbreaks recorded in Engcobo dropped from 61 to 15. Although the government’s own statistics showed that anthrax was no more common in the Transkei than in some other major cattle holding areas, the vets targeted it for a pilot anthrax vaccination “campaign”. Accordingly, Nicol, in collaboration with the magistrates, extended compulsory vaccination to the rest of the western districts of the Transkei in 1929 and to the whole of the Territories by 1934. The only exception was the settler-dominated district of Mount Currie, where vaccination remained voluntary.95 By 1942, Nicol announced that his staff were overseeing the annual vaccination of over 1,600,000 cattle in the Transkei—virtually complete coverage.96

During the early 1930s, compulsory annual vaccination was extended to other African reserves in various parts of the country. Coverage was less complete than in the Transkei, with “campaigns” targeted at “blocks” of territory thought to be severely affected. Nevertheless, officials conducted these operations on a large scale. In 1933, the Secretaries for Agriculture and Native Affairs, acting on veterinary advice, ordered the annual vaccination of over a quarter of a million head of cattle in five districts in Northern Zululand.97 The policy was extended further in Natal, so that by 1937, compulsory vaccination was in force in 101 different African reserves and in locations throughout Natal and Zululand, entailing the treatment of over a million cattle every year.98 Compulsory vaccination was intensified in the Griqualand West area, where wholesale vaccination was ordered whenever a case of anthrax was reported in a particular reserve.99 Officials initiated similar measures across the Transvaal so that, by the late 1930s, annual compulsory vaccination was in place in fifty-seven African reserves, entailing the treatment of over one-quarter of a million cattle each year.100 During 1940, more than 6 million head of cattle, half the total South African population, were vaccinated.101 South African officials also encouraged vaccination in neighbouring states by offering to export vaccine to Swaziland, Basutoland (Lesotho), South West Africa and Bechuanaland (Botswana) at the price of five shillings per hundred doses, substantially below the estimated cost of production.102
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Experimenting with Anthrax: Max Sterne, the Invention of an “Avirulent” Vaccine and the Experimental Function of Mass Vaccination

If vaccination was in force extensively with an apparent degree of success in South Africa by the 1930s, the practice was not without problems of safety and effectiveness. Difficulties with imported systems of vaccination and associated technology meant that these were subject to critical review by veterinary scientists at Onderstepoort, where an experimental approach to the production and use of vaccine evolved from the mid-1910s through to the 1940s. During the 1930s, the results obtained by mass compulsory vaccination of African-owned cattle came to fulfil an important function in these experiments.

The active constituent of the vaccine first manufactured in South Africa during 1915 was an attenuated strain of the bacillus obtained from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The key variable determining the safety and efficacy of vaccine was thought to be the degree to which the pathogenic property of the bacilli was reduced through attenuation, achieved by heating according to Pasteur’s method.103 In terms of contemporary theory, the bacilli needed to be attenuated to a point at which they could no longer cause disease, but were still capable of conferring immunity by stimulating the production of antibodies within the body. The question of attenuation was complicated by variability in the susceptibility of different species of domestic animals. Vets believed, for example, that horses and angora goats were more susceptible than cattle and sheep, so their safe immunization required a more attenuated vaccine. In practice, Pasteurian vaccination consisted of two injections, carried out approximately fourteen days apart. The first used highly attenuated organisms to stimulate an initial immune response, while the second contained less attenuated organisms, which produced immunity sufficient to prevent natural infection. Scientists considered that this protection lasted for little more that a year, so they recommended annual vaccination as a means of maintaining continuous immunity.104

Both vets and farmers criticized the Pasteur vaccine as its use expanded in South Africa through the 1910s. As Jan Todd has argued for Australia, Pasteur’s system of double vaccination was cumbersome under the conditions of extensive farming which similarly characterized South Africa.105 Government vets also complained that the administration of the vaccine, which required the marshalling of cattle on two separate occasions, was particularly difficult among African-owned livestock on communally held land.106 For this reason, Kehoe initially concentrated on producing a single version of the vaccine, but he found it difficult to strike a balance between safety and efficacy. The single vaccine sometimes produced crippling swellings and even fatal disease in the animals (particularly the more susceptible horse and angora goat) that it was supposed to protect. From March 1917, therefore, Theiler ordered the cessation of the single vaccine, except for use on cattle when the circumstances made double vaccination impractical.107

Apart from safety, stockowners also complained that the vaccine at times failed to confer sufficient protection because animals contracted anthrax during the year following inoculation. Vets noted that vaccination occasionally failed to halt the progress of an outbreak in a herd, suggesting that it did not always produce the required degree of immunity. They considered that the most important reason for this was the poor keeping qualities of Pasteurian vaccines based on the vegetative phase of the bacillus.108 In 1922, they began to use a spore-based vaccine along the lines of a product first devised in Australia by the amateur bacteriologists John Gunn and John MacGarvie-Smith during the 1890s.109 Their invention was designed to overcome the problem of deterioration during long-term storage and transportation by exploiting the capacity of the bacillus to form resistant spores, thus producing a vaccine which remained viable over long periods. More effective than Pasteur’s vaccine under conditions of extensive pastoralism, spore vaccines were in widespread use in America, Australia and Japan by the early 1920s, when they were first produced at Onderstepoort.110

Production of a spore vaccine required the selection of a strain of Bacillus anthracis with strong immunizing qualities (different strains were thought to vary greatly in this regard). Samples of strains were obtained from foreign bacteriological institutes or by isolating organisms from local outbreaks. The selected strain of bacillus was attenuated by heating, propagated in a liquid medium and then allowed to sporulate on solid agar in the presence of oxygen.111 The scientists used small laboratory animals to test for the appropriate degree of attenuation. The vaccine needed to be strong enough to kill the highly susceptible guinea-pig, but was rejected as insufficiently attenuated if it killed the more resistant rabbit. Tests to determine the efficacy of the vaccine, however, were carried out on sheep. Each vaccine dose needed to produce an immunity sufficient to protect the animal from injection with one thousand minimum lethal doses of a standard unattenuated strain. In practice, this meant that the size of the vaccine dose was adjusted until a point was reached at which the challenge no longer killed the test sheep.112 The improvements in testing enabled the introduction of a single-dose spore vaccine, of which good results were reported during the 1920s.

Nevertheless, stockowners and vets in the field continued to report some accidents and failures. As Kehoe had argued during the late 1910s, accidents, while statistically unimportant, had a disproportionate impact on the public perception of vaccination, because they tended to occur in clusters, causing serious hardship to local communities and thus undermining public confidence.113 They also suggested to Kehoe and his successor in anthrax research, Philip Viljoen, that existing vaccines were in some way inadequate for satisfactory immunization against anthrax in South Africa.114 Since the early 1900s, when Arnold Theiler demonstrated that in certain diseases immunity was specific to local strains of a pathogenic organism, the idea that the immunity produced by infection from one strain did not necessarily protect against others was common currency at Onderstepoort.115 The scientists believed that different strains of Bacillus anthracis might vary considerably in their cross immunizing properties.116 In this regard, an incident that occurred at Boshoff in the Orange Free State during 1917 was much discussed. Observers described this outbreak, which apparently affected horses only, as unusually severe. Vets used both local vaccine of different batches and vaccine from the Pasteur Institute to immunize horses in the area, but the outbreak continued unabated.117 This suggested that there were strains of Bacillus anthracis in South Africa against which the current vaccines were ineffective. A truly efficient vaccine would need to incorporate these local types. As was the case in the United States during the 1920s, scientists at Onderstepoort began to collect and isolate from nature different strains for possible use in a vaccine.118

They also continued to evaluate foreign developments in vaccine technology. Imported vaccine, including the Australian McGarvie-Smith vaccine and the American “Sobernheim” system, which used a combination of vaccine and immune serum, were tested and found unsatisfactory under South African conditions.119 In 1931, the Instituto Sieroterapico Milanese in Italy began issuing a vaccine under the trade-name “Carbazoo”, which contained “saponin”, a vegetable glycoside used in the manufacture of soap. This allegedly enabled the use of extremely virulent strains with high immunizing power, which would otherwise have been too dangerous for vaccination. The scientists isolated the strain of Bacillus anthracis used in Carbazoo and evaluated the effect of saponin on local strains, finding that the substance enhanced the production of immunity rather than reducing the virulence of the organism. As a result, from 1936, Onderstepoort issued a saponin-based vaccine.120

If there was little opposition to free vaccination, the expansion of the practice during the 1920s and 1930s was nevertheless accompanied by complaints from both white and African stockowners, to which the scientists responded by adjusting the strength of the vaccine.121 Following a spate of accidents in 1926, they released a spore vaccine based on a more attenuated strain, but thereafter the number of cases detected increased, suggesting a lack of immunizing power. As a result, Onderstepoort released a stronger vaccine in 1930 only for the cycle to be repeated soon afterwards.122 In 1933, Alexander M Diesel, the Senior Veterinary Officer for Natal, reported “alarming mortality,” as well as other symptoms such as severe inflammation and swelling at the site of inoculation, among 30,000 African-owned cattle injected with vaccine from a particular batch. Ondersterpoort received similar complaints at this time from the Transvaal and other parts of the country.123 These failures provided evidence of continuing difficulties in striking a balance between safety and efficacy in spite of the various improvements in the technology. While officials might argue that such accidents made up only a small percentage of the total number of vaccinations, they were nevertheless enough “to perturb the makers of the vaccine”.124

The improvement of the vaccine in the face of these setbacks was the task of Max Sterne, an Onderstepoort-trained veterinary scientist and bacteriologist appointed in 1934 to manage vaccine production.125 Sterne, who shared the belief of his colleagues that the safety of their product was essential for public approval and the ultimate success of vaccination, initiated new lines of research.126 His approach to immunization was radically different from earlier methods, which all depended on reducing the virulence of Bacillus anthracis. Instead, Sterne aimed at solving the problem of safety by completely removing the virulence (capacity to cause disease) of the organism, while retaining its ability to stimulate the production of immunity. Perhaps influenced by the conception of Bacillus anthracis as an environmental actor currently in vogue at Onderstepoort, he was concerned with the biology of the organism, its behaviour under different environmental conditions and the significance of this for immunization.

Sterne described how bacteriologists in Europe and America had linked the virulence of Bacillus anthracis to the ability of the organism to form a “capsule” or cell wall, which enabled it to evade phagocytosis (destruction by certain white blood cells). Bacilli which did not produce capsules were rapidly destroyed by the body’s non-specific immune defences and were therefore thought to be avirulent (unable to produce disease). This property of encapsulation was, however, variable. Earlier researchers had found that encapsulation in anthrax cultures could be encouraged or discouraged by manipulating the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. The degree of encapsulation was judged by the appearance of a culture to the naked eye. Virulent strains cultured in normal air were unencapsulated and colonies grown on solid media appeared “rough” on the surface and edges. The same strains grown in a higher concentration of carbon dioxide (similar to that within the animal body) developed capsules. As the percentage of capsuled organisms increased, the colony took on a smoother, “mucoid” appearance to the naked eye.127

Sterne thought that previous researchers had missed the potential significance of this variation for immunization.128 In the course of propagating a series of these smooth variants in a high percentage of carbon dioxide, he noticed that some of the colonies began to display rough, unencapsulated outgrowths. When these unencapsulated organisms were cultured in ordinary air they remained rough, and when transferred back to carbon dioxide they failed to revert to the smooth capsulated form. It seemed that these “dissociated” variants had permanently lost their ability to form capsules, even, perhaps, in the carbon dioxide rich environment of the animal body. Sterne reasoned that as the property of encapsulation was associated with virulence, it was likely that these stable rough variants were avirulent. This apparently proved to be the case; they failed to produce any symptoms when injected into highly susceptible guinea-pigs. It was therefore sometimes possible to render a virulent strain of Bacillus anthracis avirulent by culturing it under controlled conditions in the laboratory.129 Previous authorities on anthrax immunization generally insisted that a degree of virulence in the constituent organisms was necessary for a vaccine to produce immunity. Sterne was aware, however, of German studies from the 1910s, which suggested that apparently avirulent forms of Bacillus anthracis found in nature could sometimes produce immunity. Such proved to be the case; guinea-pigs injected with the unencapsuled, avirulent “disassociants” of certain strains were later able to resist very large doses of a highly virulent strain.130

These results raised the possibility of a completely avirulent vaccine, which Sterne hoped would solve the problem of safety. A major practical problem was that the initial production of the smooth variants from the rough, virulent organisms obtained from nature was a long, tedious and unreliable process, which made it difficult to evaluate the immunizing properties of many strains. A method of producing encapsulated smooth growths regularly was required. Sterne theorized that the characteristic roughness of strains obtained from dead animals might be an adaptation to the “normal” atmosphere under which they were cultured in the laboratory. The conditions under which Bacillus anthracis usually multiplied, however, were those of the blood-stream of a living animal. It might be that the roughness which characterized these cultures was a biological adaptation to the “hostile” physical environment in which they had been grown. Capsuled smooth cultures might be obtained more easily under conditions which emulated the natural environment for the propagation of the organism, the animal body.131

Sterne knew from the literature that anthrax bacilli formed capsules when cultured in blood serum, but fluid media were useless for studying the morphology of colonies and “picking” variants, as the organisms diffused and intermingled in the liquid.132 Further progress depended on a local technical innovation. Sterne’s colleague, the British bacteriologist J H Mason, devised a tube containing a semi-solid medium of horse serum and agar in which the concentration of carbon dioxide could be manipulated.133 Using this invention, Sterne found he could easily grow encapsuled smooth variants which regularly threw out growths of rough unencapsuled bacilli. These unencapsulated dissociants all turned out to be avirulent when injected into guinea-pigs and some seemed to give a good degree of protection against the injection of virulent cultures.134

The remainder of Sterne’s work on anthrax was a process of evaluating the immunizing properties of different strains, working out the optimal doses of “avirulent”135 vaccine for different species of domestic animals with varying degrees of susceptibility and devising a means of mass-producing the vaccine.136 He eventually chose an unencapsuled dissociant of a strain designated 34F2, which had been isolated from a severe outbreak.137 Production of the vaccine was technically a simple matter. Bacilli were picked from the dissociant colony, allowed to sporulate and then freeze-dried. When vaccine was required, the manufacturers germinated the spores and propagated them in large quantities on solid agar. These cultures were then allowed to sporulate in oxygen (to ensure the keeping property of the vaccine) and washed off into saline at a standard concentration for division into metred individual doses. The avirulent nature of the new vaccine was significant for quality control. As it now immunized, rather than killed guinea-pigs, they could be used for testing the degree of immunity produced by the vaccine. Furthermore, the results obtained with the guinea-pig proved predictive for large animals, so there was no longer the need for expensive large-scale testing on sheep. Sterne believed that safety was not at issue so there was no formal testing, although individual batches of vaccine were initially injected into a small number of animals in the field to check that they produced no severe reactions. Vaccine derived from strain 34F2 was used for all animals, but smaller doses were found necessary for horses and goats.138

The “avirulent” vaccine was first released for field trials in 1936 and used on a large scale from 1938.139 Initially, however, Sterne for two reasons advised a certain caution in advancing the merits of his invention. First, he believed that the results obtained in laboratory experiments were unreliable guides to the outcome of field vaccination, where quite different environmental conditions pertained.140 Second, he considered it difficult to control field vaccination sufficiently, “to produce statistically sound evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy in the field”.141 An experimental system of sufficient “statistical soundness” to prove the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, however, already existed in the Transkei.

Large-scale compulsory vaccination in the Transkei, where vets and other officials had closely monitored mortality in cattle since the late 1920s, provided a means of obtaining the statistical data that Sterne desired for the evaluation of the vaccine. Furthermore, because the enforcement of hygienic measures against anthrax in the Transkei had been abandoned as impractical, the scientists took the effectiveness of the vaccine as the sole variable in determining the incidence of the disease.142 As all cattle in the Transkei were vaccinated annually, and the vets were confident that they could detect virtually all new cases, the conditions were sufficiently controlled for the manipulation of vaccination to have the status of “an extensive experiment”.143 In this regard, the inverse relation between the degree of attenuation of the earlier vaccines and the annual incidence of cases revealed by inspection had been very striking. The number of reported outbreaks fell from 433 in 1928 to 34 in 1932 (following the instigation of comprehensive vaccination), but rose again to 143 by 1936 after the release of a more attenuated vaccine. Sterne took this as conclusive evidence that the further attenuation of the strain of Bacillus anthracis in use had resulted in an appreciable decline in the efficacy of the vaccine.144

If mass vaccination in the Transkei demonstrated conclusively the contradiction between safety and efficacy in the use of vaccines based on virulent strains, Sterne and his colleagues now used the Transkei for what was, in effect, a large-scale clinical trial of the “avirulent” vaccine. During 1938, Nicol used the new product to treat 271,500 head of cattle in the Transkei district of Butterworth. The vaccine produced no injuries and in the following year only five cases of anthrax were recorded in the district (calculated as 0.0018 per cent of the population), slightly better than the results obtained with spore and saponin-spore vaccines in the surrounding districts. Thereafter, the new vaccine was used throughout the Transkei. By 1941, the number of outbreaks of anthrax reported in the Transkei had fallen from 433 in 1928 to a new low of 17. For the rest of South Africa excluding Natal (where compulsory vaccination had been imposed on a large scale, if not comprehensively), the corresponding figures were 500 and 262. The real number was probably much greater, as the vets estimated that they were probably able to detect only one in seven outbreaks outside the Transkei, in areas where they were unable to exercise a similar degree of control through the operation of the East Coast fever regulations. The argument that the Transkei was a reservoir of infection was reversed and the Transkeian administration now required the vaccination of cattle entering the Territories from the rest of South Africa.145 The adjoining district of Mount Currie, populated by “progressive and prosperous Europeans”, was more heavily infected than the African-occupied Transkei.146

The results recorded in the Transkei were sufficient to allay Sterne’s own concerns that mass vaccination in the field might contradict the successful laboratory experiments of the mid-1930s. They provided convincing statistical evidence supporting the efficacy of vaccination.147 During the early 1940s, the veterinary controversy about the efficacy of vaccination against anthrax closed. The “experiment” in the Transkei powerfully supported arguments in favour of compulsory annual immunization using “avirulent” vaccine. Anthrax was apparently close to eradication in the Transkei, an area in which state vets and officials had historically found it very difficult to control animal diseases. On the other hand, hygienic measures combined with voluntary vaccination seemed to have been less effective on farms owned by whites. There was also closure of the scientific debate about the safety of vaccination. Once Sterne’s “avirulent” vaccine had been adjusted for species of differing susceptibility, it was regarded as harmless. In future, Onderstepoort scientists blamed accidents with vaccination exclusively on operator error or other extraneous factors.

During the mid-1940s, now that veterinary policy makers had sufficient confidence in Sterne’s invention, the state extended compulsory block vaccination to white farms in the Mafeking district of the Northern Cape and the Witwatersrand, as well as many other Transvaal districts.148 In 1947, the senior government vet, Alexander Diesel, considered the fact that officials in South Africa were still unable to guarantee that exported animal hides were uncontaminated. While continuing to stress the need for hygienic measures, Diesel wrote that, “For some months now, this Division has been arranging block inoculation of all cattle in the more severe anthrax areas of the Union. This method of control will be extended as far as possible as it is felt to be the only solution in the control of anthrax.”149

Sterne’s invention, the “avirulent” spore vaccine based on the unencapsuled strain 34F2, spread throughout the world during the 1940s and replaced other forms of vaccination. It remains the standard method of animal vaccination against anthrax to the present and provided the basis for subsequent research into a human vaccine.150 The vaccine contributed to the rising reputation of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in the international technoscientific network and followed the publication of a number of important research findings on vaccines, toxicology and animal nutrition. The cattle owners of the Transkei, placed under the veterinary regime entailed by the East Coast fever regulations, unknowingly provided the testing ground for a vaccine technology which subsequently achieved worldwide currency.
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State veterinary medicine in South Africa has been described in the historiography as a means of fostering commercial production by white South African pastoralists, but during the 1920s and 1930s, Africans were the major recipients of anthrax vaccine. During the first twenty years of the twentieth century, veterinary officials in South Africa believed that anthrax infection was becoming increasingly widespread and serious throughout much of the country. By the early 1920s, the perceived prevalence of anthrax in South Africa meant that the country faced the possibility of sanctions against some of its pastoral products. In order to overcome this threat, the South African government instigated an increasingly intensive campaign to control and reduce the incidence of the disease in the country. While government vets stressed the need for hygienic measures based on the efficient reporting and detection of individual outbreaks, they believed that a lack of resources, combined with public unwillingness to co-operate, doomed these measures to failure. They identified the incidence of anthrax among African-owned stock as presenting particular problems for a policy based solely on notification and hygiene. Vaccination therefore became a key element of the state’s disease control strategy.

From the 1920s, the South African state both encouraged and enforced vaccination against anthrax on a large scale. During the 1920s and 1930s, however, the vets encountered considerable technical problems with vaccination, which led to a programme of research at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute. In spite of these difficulties and in the context of a segregated society, the vets commenced the mass compulsory vaccination of cattle in various African reserves and locations towards the end of the 1920s, particularly in the Transkei. Veterinary policy makers believed that the existing disease reporting regulations gave them an accurate picture of the incidence of anthrax there and used the statistics to judge the efficacy and safety of different types of vaccine. Later, the compulsory immunization of cattle in the Transkei functioned as an extensive clinical trial for Sterne’s “avirulent” vaccine. In this regard, the vaccination of African-owned cattle underpinned the use of new vaccine technology across South Africa and eventually in other parts of the world. It thus contributed to the increasing prestige of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in the international technoscientific network.
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I would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for a grant which made researching this article possible.



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