They were there in their thousands, leaning against tin shacks or sitting in the dusty veld: miners and their wives still looking for answers after a massacre by South African police that left 34 striking workers dead. A red T-shirt worn by a rally organiser seemed to offer one, stating: "Fuck capitalism."
The huge crowd erupted as a charismatic young politician, Julius Malema, took the microphone. He is seen by some as a dangerous demagogue, but to the grieving angry community at the Lonmin mine in Marikana he came as a messiah offering a radical future".
"The British are owning this mine," he said. "The British are making money out of this mine ... It is not the British who were killed. It is our black brothers. But it is not these brothers who are mourned by the president. Instead he goes to meet capitalists in air-conditioned offices."
Malema was expelled this year as president of the youth wing of the governing African National Congress after falling out with President Jacob Zuma, whom he accuses of failing to challenge "white monopoly capital". He has since been in the political wilderness; once contemptuous of the media, he now courts it. As the Marikana tragedy lays bare discontent over inequalities 18 years after apartheid, he senses his moment.