Today, 95 years ago, 22 000 mineworkers went on strike at Witwatersrand gold mines

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Photo: alangeorge.co.uk

About 22 000 miners on Witwatersrand gold mines went on strike in what became known as the Rand Rebellion or Red Revolt on 9 January 1922.

Martial law was eventually proclaimed and the Jan Smuts government sent in the defence force, which effectively crushed the general strike.

By the end of the strike 153 miners had been killed and 500 wounded. 5000 protesters had been arrested of whom 4 were later hanged for treason.

The breaking of the strike also resulted in the virtual destruction of the white trade unions’ bargaining power.

Hundreds of white miners were subsequently laid off and those who were not had to be satisfied with lower wages and the deskilling of certain jobs.

The strike occurred during a period of economic depression following World War I, when mining companies were faced with rising costs and a fall in the price of gold.

Source: South African History Online

Compiled by Moeketsi Mogotsi/CourantNews