You are on page 1of 22

Journal of Southern African Studies

Maximum Average Violence: Underground Assaults on the South African Gold Mines, 19131965
Author(s): T. Dunbar Moodie
Source: Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 547-567
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL:
Accessed: 29-06-2016 23:57 UTC
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted
digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about
JSTOR, please contact

Journal of Southern African Studies, Taylor & Francis, Ltd. are collaborating with JSTOR to
digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Southern African Studies

This content downloaded from on Wed, 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC
All use subject to

Journal of Southern African Studies, Volume 31, Number 3, September 2005 t\ Routledge

jjj^ Taylor & Francis Croup

Maximum Average Violence: Underground
Assaults on the South African Gold Mines,


T. Dunbar Moodie
(Hobart and William Smith Colleges)

In this article I argue that historically high levels of underground violence in South African gold

mines can be only partially explained by general cultural factors such as masculinity or race;
social factors such as corporal punishment in schools; political factors such as state support for
whites; or spatial factors such as the dangers of working underground. All are relevant and
important as background conditions, but for a complete explanation, attention must also be paid
to production relations in the workplaces themselves. The article begins with a close analysis of
the only complete set of extant archival transcripts on underground assaults, the evidence to the
1913 Native Affairs Department Commission of Inquiry into the Grievances of Workers at Crown

Mines. I argue that much of the workplace violence at Crown Mines in 1913 was specific to a
particular historical set of work conditions on that mine at that particular time, rather than
providing typical evidence of the incidence of assault underground. What the 1913 Crown Mines

evidence does point to is the importance of organisation at the point of production for
understanding workplace assaults. More generally, I argue that deeply entrenched industry
wide violent work practices underground should be attributed to the maximum average wage
system, introduced on the mines in 1913. It was not until the maximum average system was
abandoned in the 1960s that the institutionalisation of assault as a form of labour control could
be successfully abrogated on the gold mines.

Violence in workplaces underground in the South African mines was endemic, at least until
the 1970s. Every black worker I asked, who had been in the mines in the 1930s and 1940s,
attested that some level of violent assault was integral to underground work. Violence by
white supervisors (and their black assistants) was such a standard and taken-for-granted part
of mine life that I soon stopped asking about it. Nor did white miners deny that they beat their

'boys'. The white union representative on a 1919 commission, for instance, insisted that often
'when you have given a cantankerous boy a good hiding or thrashing ... that boy is afterwards
your best boy' -1 The existence of such violence is undeniable. What is disputable is the reason

for such violence. Why did it occur? Under what conditions? Who was responsible? Could it
have been prevented? These are some of the questions addressed in this article.
* This article was drafted with the assistance of a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in

1998 that supplemented a sabbatical leave from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. A much earlier version was
presented at a NEWS A Workshop in 1999. I greatly appreciated the supportive comments of Alan Jeeves at the
time. The final version has been much improved by astute editorial suggestions from my son, Benjamin, who
contributed immeasurably to the cogency of the argument and the clarity of the presentation.
1 Transvaal Archives Depot (hereafter TAD), Low-grades Mines Commission, para. 1,855.

ISSN 0305-7070 print; 1465-3893 online/05/030547-21
? 2005 The Editorial Board of Journal of Southern African Studies

DOI: 10.1080/0305707052000345090

This content downloaded from on Wed, 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC
All use subject to

In 1998. You're battling the elements all the time.548 Journal of Southern African Studies Violence in the Mines Theodora Williams. Popular opinion continues to attribute inhumane behaviour to the acts of 'a few bad apples'.. He was a man's man'.. As for violence. Race and Masculinity on the South African Goldmines. Masculinity was certainly an important part of Geoff Livingstone's discourse.I mean. placed in situations in which they are given 'a total. Modernity and the Holocaust (Ithaca. she said: 'Until you can change human nature you cannot do much good.. you know. for instance.3 If inhumane treatment has support from peers and from those in authority. Keith Breckenridge.10. Livingstone told me: 'The white guy used his things indiscriminately. Breckenridge. Such arguments run directly counter to convincing evidence. This content downloaded from 158. My 1998 research trip was supported by a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.. He was a dog. It is the personality of the white miners and the language and blows and sordidness of the whole thing underground'. evidence of Theodora Williams. 3 Z. 24. he said: 'He was a man's man.4 At the very beginning of our conversation Livingstone volunteered that mining is 'a physical game and a violent game': Violent in the way we work. 15 October 1913. pp. where it was simply because of 'the personality of the white miners' that violence occurred. a leader amongst men. It's a violent environment. it's not what we breathe on the surface. he spoke of them as men: 'Ken Dicks. 4 (1998). It's not a game of intellect. You're battling heat. 'It is the white miners themselves'. when he recalled his 'supervision boss boy'. Journal of Southern African Studies.170. certain mines had a higher incidence of violence because they were badly managed. Death was nothing because we were living in violent times . Important social psychological experiments by Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram have established beyond doubt that it is characteristic for perfectly decent. exclusive and untempered power over other people' (especially if those others are clearly demarcated as different and distant). more . Racial and language differences. gave evidence to the Buckle Commission in October 1913. So it's a violent environment. 5 K. to human nature. In her opinion. however. Cornell University Press. He was a leader amongst men.5 argues that South African conceptions of manhood fed into mine violence and were constituted by it in turn. I don't know how he shapes at Head Office. Native Grievances Inquiry (hereafter NGI). Later in the interview. Mike Smith. 'The Allure of Violence: Men. You're battling rock falls. bad air. in a wide-ranging 1998 article. You're battling unnatural conditions. He was just a very good person'. Death was just bad luck.44 on Wed. or. 4 I interviewed Geoff Livingstone in Stilfontein on 4 November 1998. an Anglican missionary to the mines. But she went on to speak of 'cruel' mines manned by 'a bad class of miners'. K358.jstor. Later. I spoke to Geoff Livingstone. a retired white mine captain. psychologically normal individuals. I hero-worshipped him. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. but that's my opinion. I mean [pause]. mining is a game of muscle. 1989). to treat such others inhumanely. but her diagnosis has wider implications. 167-8. Not a problem. On that we can certainly agree. Bauman. pp. When he spoke of mine managers for whom he had worked. She actually refers to problems at Rose Deep and Wits Deep. it is likely to continue. exacerbated situational tendencies at the point of production for 'white on black' violence in the mines. Death meant nothing. You know. he came to the question of accidents: There was a lot of violence. 669-93. and he was a Xhosa.2 Dispositional arguments like this are very common when explaining violence in large organisations like prisons or the military as well as workplaces. along with mutually-supporting assumptions about the authority of white men and regulatory support for white miners whatever their dispositions. so what if a guy got killed by a loco 2 TAD. 1900-1950'. It doesn't matter how you put it. There was no system of appeal so they were protected'. Physical conditions underground were indeed important.

The Kaffir is like a horse.10 He also overlooks one important general constraint imposed on underground production on the South African mines that has long been acknowledged but whose relevance for underground violence has 6 Minutes of Proceedings of Transvaal Labour Commission [cd. So he did everything. 1904]. For example. older men and women felt free to clout their juniors. This content downloaded from 158. it could have been because the bloody arsehole that was driving the locomotive didn't have his eyes open. 'Allure of Violence'. pp. You must first catch him. Fernando used to klap us [smack us hard].7 In our conversation.44 on Wed. 4.9 Having just completed the interview with Geoff Livingstone when I read his essay. a masculine ethic. London. he told me: His name was Fernando. I've told you three times!' And we did . who said: 'The case is that the majority of the Kaffirs [in my district] are in a very wild state. 9 I am less convinced by his implication that violence underground in the mines provided a model for more general South African conceptions of masculinity.Maximum Average Violence 549 underground. In traditional African societies. and break him in.C. in Breckenridge. Men and Masculinities. I was struck by how his article and my oral findings illuminated each other. if he's sympathetic to the management of the mine. black and white alike. If he is correct. in South African schools.829). You take the guy out to lunch. Make no mistake. Give you a fat [smack] here 'It's not right.jstor. No horse in the wild state would want to come to the stable of his own accord. but I'm sympathetic and I reckon Rob [a friend who was present at the interview] and myself had one of the finest training programmes we've ever been in. probably essential. for decades. 10 This article may in fact be read as an extended critique of the sections on 'The 1913 Crown Mines Inquiry' and 'Memories of the Boss Boys' Violence'. and support from the state for white fact they were the system.871-72. Fernando used to sit behind me and clout me with a flat hand because he had the bosses' backing and he knew if I didn't make the grade they'd blame him. the indictment against the maximum average system worked out in this article has even broader implications than I draw against it. Similarly. I think. a Waterberg farmer. well expressed to the Transvaal Labour Commission in 1904 by JJ.809 (cf. most recently. van Staden. 'Corporal Punishment and Masculinity in South African Schools'. 8 The most thorough treatment of corporal punishment in South Africa is probably a series of articles by R. Virtually all Breckenridge's general arguments are encapsulated in these few sentences from Livingstone's interview: a physically violent environment. Slapping and caning were believed to be important. pedagogical tools. The inspectors were part of the system . Being beaten was a completely normal part of growing up male in South Africa in the twentieth century. and other work cited in that article. I'm not a liberal.'6 Violent discipline was standard also for young men in local African societies. an aesthetic of violence. corporal punishment was.8 Breckenridge's argument is intriguing and convincing at a general cultural level. Morrell. make no mistake. Geoff Livingstone also mentioned the uses of disciplinary violence this time on himself by a black worker. however. they must be tamed.not because he wasn't trained correctly.. 2 (2001). T was taught by a black miner'. such as you would use with a crowd of young Kaffirs'. 7 Ibid.10. The use of 'disciplinary' violence to induce work from blacks was a standard aspect of the nineteenth-century racial colonial order in South Africa. and tame him. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. pp. 1896. that guy. in his evidence to the Labour Commission. so what? So you've got to get an inspector of mines and he comes down and investigates the cause and. is just a little. well. encouraging them to go to work with a shovel. It is when Breckenridge turns to the 'history of interpersonal conflict' that his argument requires more historical context and closer attention to production processes.. Papers were signed and that was it. a normal aspect of the educational process. boy. See. paragraph 13. Chief N.. Breckenridge writes also of a socialising function for violence that was built into the self formation of both black and white men.170. 13. take [him] to the rugby and buy him half a sheep and thank you very much. 140-57. 681-87. you know . paragraphs 8. but the flogging. Umhalla from King William's Town reported of mine workers that 'they say they are flogged.

M. Buckle's Native Grievances Inquiry (collected later in 1913) and the Lansdowne Commission (which reported in 1943) are to be found in the archives.jstor. to Secretary of Native Affairs. Thirteen thousand black workers came out all along the Reef. Going for Gold (Berkeley. in practice white supervisors were expected to ensure that black workers moved rock underground. just established in October 1912. It thus provides a critical case study. University of California Press. 65. including mine captains and compound managers. Taberer. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. for decades. 12 TAD. to the state's Director of Native Labour. Samuel Evans. the issue was one of labour control. wrote at the request of H. Superintendent of the NRC.98/14/473.550 Journal of Southern African Studies never been noted. however. Witnesses also referred frequently to 'normal' levels of violence that seem to have been general at all mines and against which they measured the 'excessive' violence that was endemic at Crown Mines in 1913. Crown Mines General Manager. Workplace Conditions at Crown Mines in 1913 The 1913 Crown Mines Inquiry The evidence to the 1913 Crown Mines inquiry is the most complete archival record of underground violence in South African mines during the twentieth century. threatened to send no further men forward for the mine. when workers rioted and men were shot down by imperial troops in the streets of Johannesburg. the Assistant Director of Native Labour. What the evidence does point to is the importance of organisation at the point of production for understanding workplace assaults. Concerned about the implications for his labour supply. .12 Compounded workers at Village Main Reef. immediately after settlement of the white strike. was promptly dispatched to conduct an inquiry. This content downloaded from 158. Only fragments of the evidence to H. was more seriously interrupted by his duties in helping put down the black wage strike which occurred on 6 July.D. however.000 workers during the first few months of 1913. Cooke's work at Crown Mines. Moodie. The inquiry came about because Crown Mines lost more than 1. Director of Native Labour. p. The maximum average system made it impossible for mine managements to offer monetary incentives to black workers. where I mention the issue in passing. points to the uniqueness of a particular historical set of work conditions on Crown Mines in 1913. 1994).O.44 on Wed. Cape Town.10. NTS 207. The inquiry was restricted to one mine at one point in time. from Krugersdorp in the west to Modder B in the east. In simple terms. right in the midst of the 1913 white miners' strike. The very fact that it took place at all. assault was entrenched in the structure of production itself. H. rather than providing evidence of the typical incidence of assault underground. This is the maximum average wage system. fearing loss of their credibility in the countryside. successfully and violently defied mounted men from the South African Police. 4 January 1914. As a result.170. which I argue was intimately implicated in the ongoing production of violence underground. Cooke took evidence during the last week in June. Workers returned home. used by Breckenridge as a primary source for evidence of 'determining factors of violence underground'. asking for an investigation. with such horrific tales of rate-cutting and assaults that recruiters for the Native Recruiting Corporation (henceforth NRC).S. but a full transcript of black evidence to the Crown Mines inquiry is available. I am grateful to Breckenridge for sending me back to the evidence to the 1913 commission of inquiry into grievances of workers at Crown Mines (which I had copied in 1981) and for the stimulation of his article. especially to the eastern Cape. 11 But see T. along with handwritten notes of interviews with a range of white officials at the mine. While mine managers might condemn violence in moral terms. Cooke. demanding 5 shillings a day.

NGI. is excellent on this point as well as much else on financing and management of the Rand gold mines before the First World War. Economic Imperialism in Theory and Practice: The Case of South African Gold Mining Finance. The Economic History Review. evidence of C. per ton. some observations about the mining industry in the years before the First World War are in order. Unlike Australia and the US. once the open-pit outcrops were mined out.14 gold was laid down deep beneath the thin South African soil in broken narrow seams of very poor quality . 'Outcrop and Deep Level Mining'. see E. see Breckenridge. 'Outcrop and Deep Level Mining in South Africa before the Anglo-Boer War: Re-Examining the Blainey Thesis'. The Chief Magistrate of Johannesburg. 16 For an interesting etymology of the word 'lash'. Reduction in their wages was the first complaint of virtually all the workers interviewed by Cooke. however. ore-bearing rock was drilled (initially by hand but eventually with jackhammers) and blasted. I conclude that the very high level of workplace violence at Crown Mines in 1913 was specific to a particular set of work conditions at that mine at that particular time.17 13 TAD. was appointed to conduct the Native Grievances Inquiry as a result of this 1913 black strike. Much egregious violence underground could have been avoided by a reorganisation of the labour process. Katz.5 dwts. 2 (1995). it is clear that the primary cause for Crown Mines' loss of migrant workers was not underground violence per se. where the average values were 12 dwts. According to NRC evidence to the Buckle Commission. average wages during the first six months of 1913 dropped about a penny a shift. who marched into the compound with fixed bayonets. 1886-1914 (Durham NC. Once gold-bearing seams were reached. p. Technically. Black worker demands for higher wages in July 1913 were directly related to the introduction of an NRC wage schedule six months earlier. 15 Katz points out. The newly loosened rock was broken and shovelled ('lashed' in South African mining parlance16) into the haulage where it was 'trammed' in trucks to be tipped into lift cages at the hoisting areas and hauled out of the mine. This decision imposed unique geological and engineering (and indeed labour supply) constraints on mine managements. H. 48. and this did eventually occur. this process is known as 'development'. pp. 674. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. It devours large initial capital investment without any immediate return. Before such further detailed consideration. 1979). Kubicek. 14 For a useful account of the differences and similarities between outcrop and deep-level mines. 3 March 1914. European investors. turned off by mine owners' speculative use of their funds and the long time it took for even rich mines to come on line and pay dividends.13 Although black workers at Crown Mines did not strike in July 1913. 304-28.W.15 South African deep-level gold mines are constructed by boring vertical shafts into the earth and then digging out horizontal tunnels at different levels to intersect the ore at different points. leading to a desperate shortage of development capital and heavy management pressures at the point of production.44 on Wed. The Mining Industry in 1913 Geologically. but the imposition by the NRC of the maximum average wage system earlier in the year. per ton.10. 'Allure of Violence'. V. 17 R.Maximum Average Violence 551 They were eventually subdued by a detachment of Imperial Infantrymen. I shall undertake a close analysis of this aspect of their testimony. This content downloaded from 158. Buckle. Although gold mining on the Witwatersrand dates back to 1886.jstor. the South African ore neither petered out nor degraded in value at greater depths. however. 314. p. it was only in the early 1900s that mine controllers definitely committed themselves to deep-level mining of low grade ore. that the average values of the Witwatersrand ores were 6. Given the opportunity to express their grievances. Canada. and Latin and North America.170. placed their money elsewhere after 1903. We need to separate out causes specific to Crown Mines in 1913 from systemic issues more general to production processes in the mines. however. K358. Moreover. Duke University Press. as opposed to Australia. black miners poured forth complaints about assaults. Villiers.O.

the central haulage was replicated at greater and greater depths . was necessary not only to ensure 'ultra-exploitation' of black migrants. was aware of such constraints. 5 shaft. Schumacher of Central Mining wrote to his London principal. This Main Reef averages.and at greater length to reach the reefs as they inclined away at deeper levels . which is immediately at hand and can be very cheaply worked. See BRA (Barlow Rand Archives) Private Letters 128. 1968).org/terms . 5 remained the major working shaft. which helped them raise capital and provided engineering advice. Routledge and Kegan Paul. can afterwards be extracted at a profit together with these pillars. These groups together formed the Chamber of Mines.B. as Johnstone is so often held to have argued. Warriner divided Crown Mines mining ground into two halves by constructing a large main underground haulage along which a three-mile double locomotive track trammed ore from various outlying workings.783-84. Each mining house contained both low-grade and high-grade mines. October 1930. to prevent competition for labour between mines of higher or lower grades. has been left behind in pillars.jstor. Cooke interviewed compound managers and black workers at all three main compounds. Crown Deep the eastern deep level development. which would hoist most of the ore. but.but No. Johnstone.A.552 Journal of Southern African Studies A profitable return on the initial investment for a deep-level South African gold mine obliged every manager to mine lower-grade ore at the lowest possible cost. of course. shallower mines to open up deeper levels in a southerly direction. for instance. obliged individual mines to group themselves within mining houses. a very large proportion of the ore mined. This partially explains Robinson's reluctance to co-operate with the Chamber of Mines and the recruiting monopsony. for instance.22 It was the flagship mine of the Corner House group. Cartwright. with the pillars should yield a profit. Johnstone.23 Crown Mines' amalgamation was established to use the profits from already producing. 4. The central point of the main haulage was No.18 The generally low grade of the ore and the concomitant need to contain costs. 26 It is my impression from the testimony that Langlaagte Deep compound largely served the new deep level western section of the mine. which prescribed policy for all the mines.a source of considerable grievance until it was fixed by the construction of a subway. then. just as importantly. pp. If the pillars were taken away now this Main Reef would be lost'. Langlaagte Deep and Robinson Central Deep were retained and improved for black workers. top management kept after him.10. about the juggling involved in mining low-grade ore at Rose Deep: 'In the Western section. Crown Deep (supplemented by Crown Reef25). 19 An exception was the J. A monopsonistic maximum average system for black wages. 23 An accessible history of Crown Mines may be found in A. Chapter 14. Economic Imperialism.24 Other shafts were gradually phased out but continued to work initially. evidence of SAMWU. 20 F. Francke. but.20 Amalgamations of already producing mines were common during frequent early periods of investment drought in order to introduce economies of scale. at No. and it must be the policy to continue to leave pillars so that the low-grade Main Reef. perhaps. 41 -45. For another interesting discussion of these issues. A Study of Class Relations and Racial Discrimination in South Africa (London. Golden Age (Cape Town. This content downloaded from 158. Purnell & Sons. 22 Hence the plural title for a single large mine. 21 The best account of financial constraints and opportunities for the early Randlords is Kubicek. Crown Mines was a particularly difficult engineering proposition for the new general manager. Class. along with the colossal amounts of capital necessary for deep-level development. 25 Workers housed at Crown Reef ate at the Crown Deep compound 300 yards away.170.P. As long as development of deep levels ate up dividends from already producing mines without profits from the new deep levels.44 on Wed.21 Crown Mines was one such amalgamation. 1.26 18 On 13 February 1915. see Low-grade Ore Commission (hereafter LGOC). Robinson group of mines. although it may be necessary to refine his account of social relations at the point of production. His book continues to be well worth reading. not over 3 dwts. Formed in 1909 with the equipment and shafts of six producing mines west of Johannesburg. low grade mines were threatened with closure whenever costs (including wages) rose. nearly 10% Clifford says. Ruel Warriner. the most substantial mining house on the Witwatersrand. and Robinson Central Deep the older producing northern mine workings.19 While high-grade mines were able to pay higher wages by mining only higher-grade ore. Three compounds. Race and Gold. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. although workers seem to have been shunted around as needed. 24 As the mine deepened over the years. but they had to cross the busy (and dusty) Main Reef Road . Under severe pressure from his head office. 1976). Warriner's biggest problem was time. pp.

This content downloaded from 158. I can hardly say one mine is better than another. see M. 31 CMI. In 1913 it produced gold valued at ?3. Angelo. By 1915.27 Such relative success came at a price for workers. largely thanks to recommendations of the Buckle Commission.Maximum Average Violence 553 By 1913. 1979).jstor. Chicago University Press. evidence of John from Khama country. however. you get assaulted just the same'. a timberer from Serowe: T know the white people very well. They don't care a bit if the boys are hurt at all.'30 Especially troubling to workers who lived at Crown Deep and Langlaagte compounds and worked on development in the new deep levels was the arbitrariness of the attacks and the involvement of mine captains and shift bosses. this time Tswana speaking.170. said an Mfengu called Njali who had worked at Crown Deep about ten years.10. and at a working cost per ton milled of 16s. said one Xhosa-speaker from Mqanduli at Langlaagte Deep. 28 White miners at this stage usually contracted to produce a certain amount of gold ore at a particular price. black witnesses themselves frequently recognised what they believed was the appropriateness of a certain level of physical violence (especially for young and inexperienced men) at work. Beatings underground were to be expected and seem to have been taken for granted by black workers. 'On the other mines even at Benoni there used to be a lot of assaulting. evidence of Jim. 97.. 'They will pass you and give you a belt across the head and you see him go along and suddenly hit someone else for amusement'. He asserted on the basis of experience on several mines that he had 'never seen a mine where people are not assaulted'. Burawoy. however. most white miners had become supervisors on a daily wage.28 Difficulties in 'making out'29 that ensued were transferred directly to the bodies of black subordinates. black witnesses at Crown Mines in 1913 mentioned violence as a regular part of their everyday work life.'32 At Langlaagte Deep an experienced Mfengu worker from Tsolo summed up the problem. Langlaagte Deep was nonetheless different from anywhere else. that assaults on Crown Mines in 1913 grossly exceeded the limits of 'proper' discipline. Some of the outcrop mines incorporated into Crown Mines had been paying dividends of up to 200 per cent. however. more than any other mine on the Rand. evidence of Njali (Fingo Hammer Boy). 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. 30 CMI. he said. I have been hammered two or three times.44 on Wed.' Njali was clear. Time and again. p. Crown Mines was the biggest producer on the Rand: 'Dividends between 1909 and 1913 averaged 103 per cent. Njali was perplexed. 80. I have grown up amongst them and I know my . p. Robinson and Roodepoort'.'31 'If we are walking along a drive and meet a white man he simply lets rip at us and we meet another one and we get another belting'. 24 June 1913. 92. p. 5d. Excessive and Arbitrary Underground Violence at Crown Mines Given what we know about disciplinary practices in both South African upbringing and the colonial system. 27 Kubicek. according to Kubicek. 'The work of the mine would not stop if the boys were not chased and hammered'. The level had increased in recent months. 25 June 1913. said another. saying: 'It does not matter whether you work or whether you don't. The mining house had assured them of 150 per cent after the amalgamation. Economie Imperialism. 80. 1 Id'. Manufacturing Consent (Chicago. 25 June 1913.3 million. In the mines in this period. T have worked at Benoni. The costs of equipment and black workers were charged to their accounts. we should not be surprised that violence was a favoured form of labour control in the South African gold mines. 'On the contrary if they would only leave off this assaulting it would go on much better as the people were all frightened to go underground. 'It is the big bosses who are supposed to protect us who do it. p. 32 CMI. 29 For the concept of 'making out'. Indeed. top management's relentless push for production was conveyed to white supervising contractors by tightening their contracts. They were paid bonuses as incentives to produce. compared to the field's average cost of 17s.

26 June 1913. evidence. 26 June 1913. 1 July 1913 and CE. avoiding the elevator cages at the shafts. The violence at new deep-level workings was clearly not 'normal'.. I had a pipe taken away and smashed. 37 CMI. 14 June 1913. on lashing who had had experience at Randfontein and Knights Central as well as Crown Mines. Such patriarchal admonition apparently was expected and accepted. CMI. Acting General Manager. which served the already producing outcrop or shallow deep-level mines whose profits were funding the deep-level development to the south. 104. 104.. 38 TAD. '33 It was the lack of respect and the arbitrariness of the assaults in the Crown Mines deep level workings that offended most deeply. 26 June 1913. p. 36 Indeed. p. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about.35 These comments give us a sense of what 'normal' violence looked like from the point of view of black workers. however. A white man comes along. but in these cases the boys have done wrong. 81. 31 June(?). 25 June 1913.. 101. but I have seen boys beaten at the work. I have really not much to complain about the treatment underground here. his dignity was affronted. as a special favour. takes the pipe out of your mouth and smashes it. p. Why the increase in humiliating beatings.38 33 CMI. Kuckard. which was a first-row . lashers and trammers and drillers at the Robinson Central Deep compound complained much less about violent treatment from their white supervisors. p. handwritten notes of confidential interviews with E. even of senior experienced workers within the underground workings in the new deep-level workings? Hoisting Problems on the New Deep Level Shafts We may begin to find answers by examining Cooke's evidence from black workers housed at Robinson Central Deep compound. He gave an example: 'If you have finished work you may be waiting at the cage smoking. 24 June 1913.10. he added. and here too hand drillers were permitted to walk out once their tickets were marked. evidence of Jim. pp. Indeed.170. 34 CMI. 35 CMI. there was a serious assault charge against the skip man and his 'boss boy'. For Jim and other senior workers on shovelling at Robinson Central Deep. Howe. 1376/13. Crown Reef's drillers were largely 'hammer boys'. Why were things so much worse at Crown Deep and Langlaagte Deep? One clue is that workers at Robinson Central Deep. p. evidence of Charlie. Almost at once.' As a senior man. My principal complaint is the reduction of wages'. He did say that 'those boys who behave themselves right don't get beaten. NLB (Native Labour Bureau) 111. 102.. Here you get beaten without doing anything at all. the only complaints of assault at Robinson Central Deep were from workers who had to be hoisted. workers from northern Mozambique ('tropicals') had been hoisted in skips.jstor. expressed himself generally satisfied with work conditions at Robinson Central Deep. Brett. were often able to walk out of the mine.34 'The white men beat us at work sometimes just like a father if one does anything wrong'. trammer. McKenzie. it was the reduction in wages that was the sore point. 'They used to hammer us' on the other mines where he worked. S. the most detailed complaint about assault Cooke heard at Robinson Central Deep came from a hammer driller who actually worked at Crown Deep and was beaten at the cage there. Jim.554 Journal of Southern African Studies 'On other places I have been to there have been assaults. evidence of Timothy. added another Robinson Deep Xhosa-speaker. for instance. 86-87.44 on Wed. Sorely troubled as they certainly were by the reduction in wages. 'but we used to get more money'. an Mpondo. see also the evidence of Gogoda.J. this time from Kentani.36 The Crown Reef shaft at Crown Deep also seems to have been relatively free of complaints about assault. Chief Compound Manager Crown Mines to A. This content downloaded from 158. and Jobe from Kingwilliamstown. I have never seen a man assaulted for smoking down a mine. the assaults were not a major issue.37 Since 6 June at Crown Reef. a Xhosa-speaker. 26 June 1913.

even if it involved several thousand feet of stairs or winding through the workings of an abandoned shaft. compound manager at Crown Deep. from a different part of the notes on the interview cited. however. Langlaagte Gold Mine. 63.42 According to confidential evidence given to Cooke by CE.10. evidence.43 In the compound manager's opinion.J.Maximum Average Violence 555 In fact. evidence of Hugh Mitchell. Golden Age. a Transkeian speaking on behalf of a delegation of aggrieved workers at Crown Deep. no workers complained about No. All natives are pulled up from one level. each of which could hold 80 workers. p. 2 had pathetically inadequate hauling facilities.44 on Wed. the extreme level of violence at the other deep-level cages at Crown Mines was a 39 Breckenridge. the text in square brackets has been inserted. 43 See Cartwright. c. which was always a sore point for tired men waiting to be hauled to the surface at the end of the shift. Despite the general notoriety of the Crown Deep section. 'at the stations it should not be difficult to prevent all the hustling that goes on and which is one of the most [frequent] complaints'.17 July 1913. said Jim Qongwana. 2 shaft. 23 June 1913. Howe. and the result is that at night we come out of the Mine late. Howe. but it is avoidable. p. just north of Crown Mines. 41 CMI.39 Workers who were able to walk out of the mine. generally at Crown Mines.40 Thus. But what made Rount different was more than his personal decency. Eventually most of the mines adopted variations on Rount's strategy to overcome problems with . Crown Deep. Note for reasons of clarity. Langlaagte Gold Mine.45 Although delays in hauling were a frequent cause for complaint on the mines for decades after 1913. This was the central shaft for the entire mine. those who had to be hoisted were more likely to mention beatings. Keeny. but seem not to have suffered serious assaults at the stations. Cooke's handwritten notes of confidential evidence from CE. This content downloaded from 158. I have put up two gates well back from the shaft head. See further below. Assaults at the hoisting stations seem to have been particularly problematic at Crown Mines where the push for production was most intense. p.J. which was presided over by a Mine Captain named P.L. Rount. was notorious for egregious assaults. a good deal of hustling and assaulting takes place. often while lining up at the cages. which hauled 90 per cent of all its gold. Manager. 45 CMI. He had established an organisational solution to the vicious problems of disorganised hoisting. When we are put into the cage they beat us and some of us will not go down in the cage but walk instead. Crown Deep compound served four shafts with five Mine Captains amongst them. 'Allure of Violence'. 31 June (?) 1913. where the two skips could hold only eight men each. who wished to interview the Commission and lay complaints before them'. Workers there complained to Buckle of delays in haulage. Hoisting problems must have been as severe at Block B.jstor. 44 CMI. He added that 'it was just like a lot of fowls being put into a fowl house when the boys were getting into the cage'.] There used to be a great deal of this. 683. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about.44 The problems of hoisting were more organisational than personal. See NGI [K358]. an experienced hand driller from Keiskammahoek reported to Cooke at Langlaagte Deep that black workers 'are always being assaulted by Europeans at the cage.170. '41 It was at the hoist that workers were most likely to be hammered. there were two skips. [At the surface if the boys are late. They walk up or down to this. 42 CMI. Adjustments to deep-level mining did not come easily. 214. 40 Except on 'E' section of Langlaagte Deep where F. and organisational inadequacies tended to be taken out on black workers. even though No. Keith Breckenridge also noted that the hoisting places were flashpoints for violence at Crown Mines. They indicate very competent management and genuine compassion. known to his black workers as Gundwana (the Rat). 'There are always many boys waiting long before knock-off time and they could be got up before'. complained less often of assault (although they often complained about the long climb). said Rount in regard to hoisting problems: There is no reason why boys who have finished should not be taken out by the cages at once. One of them seems to have been exceptional. evidence on behalf of 'a very large number of natives. where trouble at the hoisting stations was endemic. Compound Manager. 5 shaft at the 'new mine'. 24 June 1913. Cooke's handwritten notes of a confidential interview with Rount survive in the file. in No. Cooke's handwritten notes of confidential interview with P. The gate is opened and ten boys brought in and get on. Rount. the Mine Captain.

44 on Wed. They say they loaf about down in drafty stopes and everybody who comes kicks them out of the way for being in the way. 23 June 1913.. violence at the workplace at the developing deep levels was also considered excessive by experienced workers . 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. So they opted to knock off early and walk out of the mine. saying: I must not [name particular mines] but. This content downloaded from 158. Mine captains and shift bosses are always under intense pressure from management to move rock during development phases of deep level mining. the mine missionary.workers who took for granted a certain level of violence as normal on the mines.. evidence of Theodora Williams. Such violence spread also into the haulages. they argued. hammer-drillers were noted for their refusal to drill extra inches despite several efforts to provide incentives for them to do so. Trapped underground. One of the things [black workers] complain of is that a boy goes down at 6 o'clock and has so many feet of rock to drill.48 In these cases. They kick them. Rount's example shows what could be done by decent management. and knock them on the ground and leave them there. their complaints were not restricted to the shambles at the cages. evidence. the specific problem at Crown Mines often had to do with the organisation of underground work itself. 'We are assaulted by the man I am working for. such men were easy targets for whites pushing for production. Bangazi. Theodora Williams. p. Even when the natives are working hard the shift bosses come along and tell them to work harder' . . contract rates for inches required to be drilled would have been raised. p.170. a Shangaan boss boy on lashing at Crown Deep. He does it by 10 o'clock and then he must stay down until 3 o'clock before he is hoisted. Of course this had become impossible at deeper levels.'47 Nor were higher-level underground officials excluded from these charges. and his measures were (and still are) standard organisational solutions to hoisting problems that have long since been adopted on most mines. On many shafts at Crown Mines (in 1913 at least). one of the mines of a very big group has a shocking reputation [Crown Mines?] and cannot get good boys. an Mpondo from Bizana at Crown Deep. salted her general comments about the racism of 'a certain class' of white miners with a shrewd observation about assault in the haulage drives. 60. underground organisation was not equal to the restructuring of production and the additional 46 TAD. I believe.. especially given general disorganisation at underground workplaces. and fist them.556 Journal of Southern African Studies product of lack of organisation.10. There is nowhere for them to go. 25 June 1913. 98. for instance. K358. said Jim. 47 CMI. Assaults in the Haulages Although many deep-level workers on Crown Mines mentioned violence at the hoisting places underground. Disorganisation at Work Indeed.46 That hand-drillers who had completed their tasks hung about in the drives certainly explains some of the casual violence ascribed to underground officials and white miners. 'We are assaulted underground even if we are working'.jstor.. for whom any black man not at work was considered a 'loafer'. Had they done so. asserted that 'his only trouble' was 'that the shift bosses are always assaulting natives underground. evidence. Workers from Crown Deep and Langlaagte compounds were engaged largely in expensive development of new second and third row deep-level shafts and haulages which would not reach payable ore for several more years. 48 CMI. These experienced and outspoken senior workers were thus assaulted for 'loafing about' when they were quite legitimately waiting to be hauled from the mine.

25 June 1913. 31 June (?) 1913. confidential handwritten evidence. and that is the end of it. Moreover. 3 July 1913. 'who either replies by note or comes and sees me and he usually looks fully into matters'. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. p. according to Howe: The gang system is inoperative. The notes are read. Structural tensions between underground and compound managements are inevitable and universal on the South African mines. 95. S. who complained of assaults from 'the masters who supervise our work underground'. 25 June 1913. MacKenzie. and the boss says "all right". This reacts on the natives as tickets are lost and tickets are marked by others than those that they should be working for.'54 As Mfunda. however.51 This was a personal exception. black workers needed their white supervisors to sign off on their work tickets. The whole gang of his boys left him and ran away because 49 CMI. The requirements and interests of production management necessarily take precedence. but under Ruel Warriner at Crown Mines at this time they seem to have been particularly difficult.170. Howe at Crown Deep compound said that four of his Mine Captains 'usually tear up the notes and no action is taken'.'50 There were exceptions. confirmed his subordinate's view of this disorganisation.'49 Mine managers and the underground management hierarchies subject to them are driven primarily by production needs and have to deal with white as well as black miners. The [General] Manager certainly favours the underground people and is lacking in sympathy with the compound. not only was there constant tension between production and compound managements. 31 June (?) 1913. explained: 'Sometimes you get a white man here for a day and he never comes back again. saying: 'The gang system is very defective: boys are changed about and no entries made in gang books. but the organisation of underground work itself was chaotic. evidence. 99. torn up.. 50 CMI. provided an instance of how workers themselves found more desirable supervisors. saying: T don't like my boss very much because he grouses so much. an Mpondo hammer driller. 52 In order to be paid for a shift. 53 CMI. a Sotho boss boy with long experience at Crown Deep. the Chief Compound Manager. Boys frequently complain that they have not been able to work because their bosses did not come to work.jstor.'55 Mpalane.44 on Wed. for instance. In such cases their tickets are not marked and they are kept underground which is a hardship.Maximum Average Violence 557 pressures imposed by the amalgamation.10. evidence. He continued: 'MacKenzie [the Chief Compound Manager] does all he can for us when we complain. Part of the problem was lack of co-operation between underground line management and compound administrators. said that he had 'been assaulted on many occasions'. but no notice is taken of the notes we take to the mine.. handwritten confidential evidence. p. 54 CMI. This content downloaded from 158.. such a 'hardship' might turn out to be more than merely an inconvenience. July. 3 July . was quite outspoken about this: 'At present there is no co-operation between the compound and underground and they think as soon as natives are led to them they can do as they please with [them]. The problem was structural. 55 CMI. MacKenzie.. The note simply gets rotten and we never hear of it again. Violence in the mines thrived on intense production pressures and disorganisation in the workplaces underground. handwritten notes of confidential interview. the chief compound manager supposedly in charge of the entire black work force at Crown Mines. No mine manager can altogether ignore the compounds but managers tend to expect compound managers to keep the peace and deliver the workers to the shaft heads every morning.53 Where 'loafers' were regularly beaten underground. Each boss has a sheet stating his gang but as no penalties are conferred the system is in a chaotic state. We don't know them by their names.K. an experienced machine driller from Lesotho. but he made an exception for Rount. confidential handwritten evidence. Boys change from one boss to another and any boss under which the boy happens to be working marks or refuses to mark52 as he thinks fit. 51 CMI.

29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. Keeny. I never saw 'Mogundwana' after that. When I fell down my head went wrong altogether. Cooke conducted confidential interviews with two Mine Captains. Just as I have finished up rolled 'Mogundwana' and said 'What are you doing here?' and I answered that my boss told me I must break stones. He has an entirely new gang. they stole from their mates or demanded that management provide them with more black bodies. They told me the case was over and I was to come back to the Compound. go back and carry on with breaking stones at the skip. however. Moreover. He kicked me in the ribs. This content downloaded from 158. ran a tight ship at No.10. Many white contractors pushed blacks viciously in order to meet their production quotas.170.jstor. 25 June 1913. 57 See Moodie. constant shifting of gang composition must have made it impossible even for experienced black workers to avoid violence.J. The system was desperately in need of reform. Going for Gold. Since native controllers reported to the mine captains. if only to sustain production. I went back and broke all the stones. I picked up the shovel and was putting [the stuff] in the Koko pan [the tramming trolley]. When their men left them. I am the only one who remained with him. the skip is full'.' In situations where language barriers reduced training of new team members to clouts and shoves. I am going away and I won't come back to this mine 56 CMI. I did not think he was going to hammer me. Since most white supervisors at Crown Mines were on contract. I woke up and I could not even see. pp. . Crown Deep. evidence. I am on my last ticket. 'Mogundwana' said 'come along with a spade'. as we have seen. there is little evidence that they did much to contain 'normal' violence underground. 'Mogundwana' approached the Police then. I went to hospital and stayed a fortnight there. and F. who was in charge of 'E' section at Langlaagte Deep and was known to black workers as Gundwana ('The Rat') because of his violent and abusive supervision underground. [Keeny] went away and then my own boss came along and said 'leave this work alone.. Rount's effectiveness as a manager stemmed from organisational restructuring of production processes rather than simply from his more agreeable temperament. 'Mogundwana' [Keeny] said there is some stuff to shovel. I went to the Police and I felt so bad that I really thought I could not even tell the story. Let us start the comparison with Keeny. I don't know what happened.. who reported: I was at the skip breaking stones and I went to the stope. Native controllers did manage to organise work gangs and assign them to particular white supervisors. Two Quilimane boys had hold of me. black workers wandering around underground looking for a new boss would certainly be liable to assault from mine captains and shift bosses. P. while individual styles of supervision might make something of a difference in preventing underground violence. such behaviour seems oddly counterproductive for them. The case was talked over then and they never arrested him. These interviews reinforce the argument that. Cooke's most detailed account of Keeny's methods of supervision came from an Mfengu lasher called Willie. which would at least have reduced some of the 'abnormal' violence that seems to have been widely prevalent in Crown Mines in 1913. who was generally respected and.. The Compound Manager gave me a note to the Police. 2 shaft. I came straight to the compound. 86. [Afterwards] I went with the Police and I identified 'Mogundwana' as he came out of the shaft. Buckle recommended the appointment of such officials on all mines.57 Differing Underground Management Styles Near the end of his inquiry. however. I felt as if I were going to die.44 on Wed. Howe told Cooke that underground 'native controllers' were to be appointed that very week to correct these problems. knocked me down and then he just did as he liked with me. Rount. I went thinking that I was going to go in shovelling. 58-61. Many workers told me that the 'native controller' was simply another white man to hit them.558 Journal of Southern African Studies he hammered them all..L. were picking me up and throwing water over me.

in Keeny's opinion. evidence of .58 An Mpondo underground worker from Tabankulu who had seen Keeny at work commented dryly at the end of his evidence: 'Mogundwana would not dare to come into my country to recruit natives. however.61 'There is no instance that a boy on a dry hole should receive special consideration'. as we have seen.. I have sacked men for assaulting boys. Tramming boys are also underpaid at 1/8. when interviewed by Cooke.jstor. Similarly. but both he and Rount confirmed the compound managers' accounts of chaos underground. 7 July 1913 (Rount's evidence undated. Assaults were hardly surprising given the constant reshuffling of workers and failures to mark tickets. Instances of many complaints are from lashing boys who do not see why the hand drillers be so highly paid and yet leave the mine so 58 CMI. 83. Keeny reported that few cases of assault had come to his attention (T have always got on all right with natives'). He made no suggestions for reorganising the structure of underground work or insisting that white gangers mark workers' tickets.10. Rount was much more constructive and understanding. p. he said. 'The lashing boy is the donkey of the mine and does not get enough money. 'There is a great difference between the popularity of miners and when they are changed the boys look at them and if they do not like him they skin out. but presumably same date as Keeny). Virtually all supervisors recognised that hand-drillers working over their heads on so-called dry holes should be credited six or nine inches. however. confidential handwritten evidence.' Keeny clearly had given up enforcing gang organisation in his shaft: There are no gang books in my section.'59 Not surprisingly. he denied tearing them up. pp. Even Keeny admitted that 'the natives have a grievance that they are assaulted [by their white bosses] for no reason whatever'. If boys don't turn up for a couple of days it is reported to the compound manager. The shift bosses are supposed to supervise this. nor does he seemed to have bothered to rectify wrongly marked tickets. 59 CMI. A man is expected to know what boys he has got. According to Rount.170.. The gang system as a whole is very badly defective and it is not much use one man trying to keep his lists properly. Moreover. Indeed. 'Keeping on' in the face of beatings from the white man they called 'The Rat' must have taken more temerity than most workers possessed. 61 'Dry holes' were holes drilled into the ceiling of the tunnel directly overhead. This content downloaded from 158. 26 June 1913.60 Such chaos was exacerbated by the frequent absenteeism of white miners and their tendency to move along the Rand from mine to mine in search of easy contracts. they turned to 'a job like lashing where they can do as little as they like'.44 on Wed. he thought that when Xhosa-speakers from the Cape could not get hammer-drilling work. His solution. Bosses of lashers and trammers work with what boys he has. If strong action was taken the men would soon stop it. he said. He seemed to have no comprehension of the widespread black worker opinion that lashing was both underpaid and subject to the most systematic violence from supervisors. 80-81. but they were got the best of. T find boys fairly content when properly handled'. 'Fine the whites'. 'The men often beat boys for no real reason. evidence of Willie. leaving it up to the blacks to 'keep on till things are done for them'. while he admitted getting frequent notes from the compound manager. but not Keeny. Rount also made organisational changes wherever possible. That is how my heart feels. T generally find that when the boy complains he is usually in the right.Maximum Average Violence 559 anymore. Working with a jumper (heavy cold chisel) and sledgehammer over one's head was obviously much more strenuous. The Compound Manager did his best for me and so did MacKenzie. The men can get gang books if they want them. he told Cooke. T go into matters'. 'lashing and tramming boys are paid well enough'. he said. ' He did not report the result of his investigations to the compound manager. 60 CMI.' But. 24 June 1913. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. was as pointlessly punitive in the case of white contractors as his own regular personal assaults on blacks. According to Rount.

What made much of the violence at Crown Mines so unacceptable to them was its arbitrariness and the general disorganisation underground.A. Violent Consequences of the Maximum Average System Universality of Wage Grievances from those Subject to the Maximum Average In February 1914. Hammer-drillers were gradually phased out. Crown Mines had not been 'a very happy ship' . 287-8. this was a good move. As things settled down and new structures were put into place.M Judging from evidence to the Cooke inquiry. Until Walton's arrival.' So far as I can make out. however.10. p. although 'there is not much actual degrading of boys'. the threat of being put on lashing was often used by shift bosses to control better-paid workers like timberers.44 on Wed. This 62 The Schedule of Rates almost at once excluded machine-drillers from the maximum average system. See also pp.jstor. Rount was exceptional in his understanding of structural issues.560 Journal of Southern African Studies early. 'There is no overtime of machine boys on my section'. as early as January 1915. Hoisting was systematised (although it always remained an area of contention).45 all the air in my section is turned off and this is locked. this is an understatement. They were on piecework by the end of 1913. The Particularity of the Crown Mines Situation Let us reflect for a moment on what has emerged from this detailed discussion of underground violence at Crown Mines. This has the effect of compelling everyone to knock off work. Oxford University Press. 306. They grumble if moved to other benches. Phillips suggests that Crown Mines' 'organisation is not working as well as it should'. the tone of my letters during the last two or three years must have convinced you that I was very uneasy on the subject of the system of working. who was running the Johannesburg operation.' He tried to even things out in his shaft by (illegally) limiting earnings for hammer-drillers.170.J. Rount thought: '[Rock drillers] try to keep their own benches and have an interest in keeping them square as it is easier. one might expect that the extreme levels of violent assault experienced by workers at Crown Mines in 1913 would have returned to a 'normal' level. This does seem to have been the . not one of Rount's black workers at Crown Deep appeared at Cooke's inquiry to complain about their treatment. In 1919. Jeeves. MacKenzie and his compound managers regained some of their clout with fine management and MacKenzie had a long and successful career as chief compound manager on the Crown. he said. It seems clear from the evidence that black workers there accepted as normal a certain level of violent supervision. I can see no advantage in limiting the general average for machine boys on piece-work to 2/3. Wallers. p. Rount said. Ruel Warriner was replaced as general manager by A. Cartwright says. Walton.' Indeed. 'at 3. Keeny seems to have been more typical. Fraser and A.. where. 63 On 26 November 1917.' M. All That Glittered (Cape Town. 1977). The exclusion of hand-drillers from the maximum average limitations gave them an unfair advantage. This content downloaded from 158. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. It is sound to let the boys drill as much as they like. the NRC dropped its maximum average for machine drilling and introduced piece-rates for the number of feet drilled with a minimum of 30 feet per shift.. Lionel Phillips had written from Central Mining head office in London to E.62 He also tried to limit exploitation of machine-drillers by white miners who had a habit on some shafts of working them overtime now that they were off piecework. 64 Cartwright. Golden Age. 224.63 According to Cartwright. Walton 'proceeded to make the mine a model of efficiency'. Underground controllers were installed on the mine to correct the chaos at the work-gang level. particularly at the Crown Mines for which he is primarily responsible. as follows: 'Although I am sure our decision not to renew Warriner's contract came to you as rather a shock and though we are just as grieved personally as you are.

24 June 1913. p.'70 Reduction in wages was thus a very general grievance on Crown Mines.44 on Wed. I have never received. but this sort ofthing is no good. Without . The 1913 black strike and the shortage of labour at Crown Mines both resulted from changes in the wage structure of the mining industry initiated by the formation of the NRC in October 1912 and the imposition in January 1913 of maximum average wage schedules (set by the Chamber's Committee of Consulting Engineers) on all member mines. The best example of its initial impact is the case of Nourse Mines.10. Piecework immediately became standard for machine drilling. p.jstor. The maximum average clause's effect on tramming and shovelling pieceworkers was much more long-lasting. CMI. exceeded in volume only by graphic accounts of assaults underground.per month. saying 'this is the third ticket [of 30 working days] I am on since we have been reduced'.170. summed up black worker grievances when he gave evidence to the Cooke inquiry on 25 June 1913.and machine-drillers (and indeed older and more modern mines). evidence of Mfunda. Despite occasional muted objections to the system from progressive mine managers and efficiency experts. the continuation of the maximum average system entrenched violent assault as virtually the only form of labour control in lashing and tramming on all the mines for the next 50 years. 'scientific management' in any meaningful sense was impossible and violence reigned. My heart is very sore that I should come here to work for that amount of money. 53. In 1909. as with most of the Crown Mines black witnesses who were not hand-drillers. evidence of Jim from Mqanduli. the general advantages of the system were nonetheless perceived to outweigh its disadvantages for five more decades after the specific causes of the most egregious underground violence had been removed at Crown Mines. CMI. The money is too small. 24 June 1913. 83. but was making ?3-5/. evidence of Jantje. '67 'The first time he was here he was doing the same work as he is now. July. evidence of John. 25 June 1913. had to do with the reduction in wages brought about by the new NRC Schedule. Morkel 65 66 67 68 69 70 CMI. 80. Mpondo miners from the 1930s and 1940s to whom Vivienne Ndatshe and I spoke in the 1980s told us that machine-drillers were 'the kings of the mine'.Maximum Average Violence 561 removed an important inequity between hammer. Management Exasperation with the Maximum Average System As we have seen. July was careful to pinpoint the date of the reduction precisely. This content downloaded from 158. CMI. 80. but the 3d. CMI. 25 June 1913. 24 June 1913. the Sotho boss boy on Crown Mines at Crown Deep with long experience at the mine. CMI. Again and again. 86. which had introduced the maximum average system. machine-drillers were moved back to piecework as early as February 1914.'69 'We want the money to be raised. evidence of Mpalane. p. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. p. p. evidence of Jim. While many of the specific structural problems at Crown Mines could be addressed by organisational reform. Crown Mines had implemented the new schedule promptly. His first complaint. p. however. workers giving evidence to Cooke first mentioned the wage reduction: T really came here to work for my children. he now finds that the money has been reduced to ?3 per month since he was last here.'65 T have written in my book 2/3. '68 'When I finished my first month I suddenly discovered the money had been reduced to ?2-5/-. typically earning more than boss boys. The maximum average system continued to apply to lashers and trammers. There is ample evidence that no manner of structural reform by mine managers could offer non-violent incentives to address problems of worker motivation unless the industry as a whole abandoned the maximum average system.'66 'We are not paid for our full number of feet. 23 June 1913. 95. It is my contention that one unintended consequence of the maximum average system was a steady level of 'normal' supervisory violence underground.

72 By December 1912. such workers earned close to the 5/. 5. Box 382.170. Box 382. 313/09. Villiers criticises Barry's handling of the affair. File No.75 trucks per worker per shift. The scheme spread from Lesotho to parts of the Transkei.73 Basotho workers on Nourse Mines promptly went on strike. 3 March 1914.A. Nourse Mines. 72 BRA. they were enormously productive and they led to relatively high wages . largely recruited in Lesotho. This made for between 300 and 400 workers earning slightly under 3/6 a shift and delivering about 3. Barry had sixteen lashing and tramming piecework gangs at work in his mine. Manager. 15 April 1913. When they were cut down from lOd. they had to feed themselves but the Crown Mines decided to feed them because they grumbled and were leaving the work. 74 BRA. See also NRC evidence to the Buckle Commission (K358). who said that: 'The Basutos were fed by the Company now and only get 5d. his consulting engineer and the NRC when the recruiting corporation published its schedule of rates insisting on a maximum average of 2/3 (with an additional 4d. evidence of a large deputation. Merriman's nephew. File No. has a useful summary of how the system worked. Witness went on to say that he was a Boss Boy with 20 natives under him (two gangs). etc. The Chamber exempted Nourse Mines from the penalty for exceeding the maximum average but the NRC did not (or could not) deliver on a promise to replace the pieceworkers. Barry was forced to renegotiate their contracts at a somewhat lower rate (but still above the maximum average) and as their contracts expired they began to leave the mine. Nourse Mines. These gangs. 14. his ability to overcome local difficulties. who could not see why he continued to object to 'rules and regulations which have been agreed upon by all parties'. but they would much rather buy their own food and get more money. Nourse Mines. etc. p. to 5d. 73 Correspondence in BRA. File No. but he keeps all the money of the fourth week. R.' CMI. Although these gangs were quite expensive for the mines. fully loaded at the stope and delivered to the hoisting shaft. McGill/Queens University Press. Native Labour 1910-18. where C. The mine manager. Barry. Soon the mine was 10 per cent below the complement of other mines in the Central Mining group. 5.74 Barry was livid and kept up his angry correspondence with the NRC. See also Native Affairs Department Commission Report in TAD.W. pp. If 'the right class of boy' was recruited for a piecework tramming contract. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. In one case at Crown Mines. NLB 3.jstor. A. when the NRC first published its new rates. They were supervised by black 'boss boys' who pocketed every fourth week's wages (with a percentage to the Morkels). The Cooke Inquiry at Crown Mines heard evidence from a representative of Sotho pieceworkers at Crown Deep. He collects all the money and pays out the gang according to the Time Office sheets. a portion of the workers' three-quarter share was 'given to a white man underground for his generosity of exaggerating the number of our trucks we made'. Native Labour 1910-18. Petty chiefs in Lesotho quickly got in on the act and many 'boss boys' were in fact their representatives. 29 May 1913. a truck.up front at least. 64. soon to be incorporated into the Crown Mines conglomerate.562 Journal of Southern African Studies Brothers had introduced a system of gang contracts for lashing and tramming at Robinson Central Deep Mine. were paid by the tramming truck. to improve conditions on his particular section. p. NLB 3. Richard . John X.10. Anybody who believes that mine managers supported the maximum average system (or had absolute control of operations on their mines) should read the agitated and irate correspondence that ensued between Barry. Native Labour 1910-18. 23 June 1913.71 Nourse Mines as a high-grade mine could afford high piece rates for efficient tramming and lashing. 158-61. Migrant Labour in South Africa's Mining Economy (Kingston and Montreal.a day demanded by the 1913 black strikers. See court records for 28 January 1913. 1985). 5. then the piece-work contract system undoubtedly has the great economical advantage of increasing the tonnage produced per boy from any given place. if no food was provided) to be imposed immediately on lashing and tramming pieceworkers.44 on Wed. 4 January 1913 and following. as compared with the results obtained under ordinary day's pay. in TAD. warmly favoured Frank Gilbreth's method of scientific management. Jeeves. 313/09. Box 382. to NRC. 71 The system did lead to occasional disputes among gang members about sharing out the proceeds. except for giving the boys some little present if they have worked well. This content downloaded from 158. Gang members thought that such overheads should have been paid out of the fourth week's takings. but he soon lost the sympathy of his consulting engineer. he believed: a boy who understands that his remuneration depends solely on the result of his personal efforts. Barry to Madew.

'to give all boys throughout the Rand an equal chance on tramming and shovelling'. Stocke?.jstor. regardless of their 'actual' grade of ore. whether it was possible to install electrical or mechanical haulage. Taberer's lengthy Report on Native Labour for the Economic Commission. in TAD. of course. Many managers simply ignored the rules and exceeded the maximum average in the early teething stages. that the superintendent of the NRC .. Buckle's remarks to C. From the point of view of scientific management. because practically everybody I have got hold of has been opposed it?'. would have had to pay very high wages or close up shop.. 27 November 1913. Stockett responded. 31. the state of the trucks and the tracks. and. Monopsony versus Efficiency Buckle eventually examined A. 3 March 1914. there was nothing 'to prevent the rich mine from offering an undue advantage to the boy over the poorer mine'. Under a piecework system in lashing and tramming with no maximum average. which required far more black workers. Economic Commission . . COM. March 1914. evidence of A. faults in the reef.Maximum Average Violence 563 Barry was by no means alone in his objection to the maximum average system.Native Labour. he asked Taberer. 78 TAD. the overall organisation of the work on each mine. The maximum average was intended to get everybody on the same footing. however.was so vehemently opposed to it. Conversion to machines would have involved widening stopes. T2380. where he attacks the 'absurd restrictions to the earning power of natives' imposed by the NRC Schedule of Wages and its maximum average system. NRC. find that the costs go down and the tonnage goes up. Taberer of the NRC was himself adamantly opposed to the entire maximum average system. K358.79 Open competition for 75 TAD. and even on the same mine. He mentioned the length of the haul. the steepness of the stope.which had imposed the schedule . Told by Buckle that mine managers had insisted to him that the NRC schedule had broken down a perfectly satisfactory system in which 'boys making high wages' gave the mines 'full value for their money'. Hammer mines. 'The tons per boy varied from two tons to nine tons. 6 February 1914. 77 TAD. The problem lay in variations between mines. more efficient workers and more efficient mines were being penalised.75 Ironically enough.10.77 Taberer suggested he speak to the consulting engineers. 'theoretically the maximum average is wrong and there should be no limit to piece-work' in shovelling. Villiers. 600 boys left one mine alone [Crown Mines?] in one or two weeks. p.910. as Barry no doubt would have been. let alone between mines. p.W. p. Taberer replied: 'That is perfectly correct.M. This content downloaded from 158. both excessively expensive and quite dangerous.170. Taberer. who was in the process of calculating the labour complement for each mine and was a prime mover in drawing up the NRC schedules. in conditions for lashing and tramming. for instance. the roughness of the foot wall. 79 In Marxist language.78 Stockett was very clear that the problem was both competition for labour and the danger of wage hikes for black workers. He was just more vociferous. These would immediately have become 'low-grade' by definition because of their organisation of work. he said. as Buckle was quick to point out. Technical Adviser (Engineering) to the NRC.W. for instance. depending on the conditions on the same mine'. evidence of H. K358. K358. Some mines as soon as they put boys on to earning what they can. By that logic. 14.44 on Wed. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. 'Can you tell me who I can get hold of to put the case in favour of that maximum rate. Stockett. but several of them testified to Buckle in early 1914 that they had had to abandon piecework for lashing and tramming even though they were 'perfectly satisfied they were getting better value' out of it. The crux of the matter was that the Chamber was determined to banish competition amongst mines for labour in a situation where technological constraints had often been set at the development stages of each mine. unrestrained extraction of relative surplus value would have made it impossible to work technologically backward mines. 76 See.' 76 Buckle was puzzled.W. because of the cutting of the tramming rate and averaging the earning pay.

564 Journal of Southern African Studies labour was posing a threat that the 'low-grade mines' would have to go out of business. NLB 111. A measure of assault in the push for production was taken for granted in the mines. Race and Gold. In a participant observation study on Welkom mine in 1975-6.44 on Wed. the maximum average system was no longer being applied and everyone in authority frowned on violence underground. every South African gold mine would have been 'low grade'.or whatever else they could lay their hands on. 136/13/154. As I recall. (c.the mine captain or the shift boss or the underground manager. Without cheap black labour. What the maximum average system did. 'This system'. Well. were obsessed with efficient social organisation of production for greater profitability. on the one hand. put the white supervisor's dilemma very neatly: He is forced to get a job and he goes underground and he is told that [this and] that is required of him and of the natives. Efficient and non-violent production incentives were sacrificed on the altar of low . 44. you will get fired if you do'. Rount. on the other hand. was to remove the possibility of using monetary incentives to encourage hard work. which inhibited the profit maximisation of certain individual companies for the sake of maximising the profitability of all of the companies'. if he does 80 Johnstone. as Johnstone puts it.80 What has never been noticed is the connection between the maximum average system and violent forms of labour control underground. we found occasional white miners who shared a portion of their production bonus with their teams. 17 July 1913). 81 See. It was lower level supervisors who were obliged to put scientific management into practice by ensuring that black miners worked hard as well as putting in their time. I suspect that in earlier periods there were probably also cases of this sort. as we saw on Crown Mines). as Barry saw at the outset. the maximum average system efficiently kept down the cost of black labour and distributed black workers to all the mines. Production contracts for white miners were little help unless they could effectively organise the work of their black subordinates. 'was an interesting form of capitalist collectivism. Piecework virtually disappeared from all but drilling on the mines.jstor. Mine Captain at No. tells him at the same time 'you must not hit the boys. Hence their recurring interest in 'scientific management' and their acceptance of the need to motivate workers. The long-term survival of the entire industry depended on a reliable supply of cheap black labour spread evenly across the entire spectrum of gold mines from the best designed and most efficient to the incompetently run and from highest to lowest grades of ore that could squeeze out a profit on the margins. whether by coercion or inducement. For most of them.d. Class. Having precious few carrots (although sometimes they over-marked holes to reward assiduous drillers81). This led to a fundamental systemic contradiction. despite opposition from mine managers and NRC recruiters (and even uneasiness among many consulting engineers themselves). Pohl. white miners literally had recourse to the stick (in the shape of sjamboks or short pieces of hosepipe . monopsony won out over productivity in order that investors in low-grade mines receive some return on their capital. for example. Crown Deep. His boss .J. Such miners were always superb producers. Cooke's handwritten notes of his interview with P. the union representative on the Low-grade Mines Commission in 1919. of course. In the end. While. humanity with regard to black labour was hardly an issue. in TAD. This content downloaded from 158.170. 2 Shaft. Underground Work Practices Consulting engineers and mine managers. What was at stake was simply finding the right carrot or stick. By then. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. especially those supervising lashing and tramming.10. That a mine was 'low-grade' had to do with its initial development and its productive efficiency as well as the actual gold content of its ore. Patrick Pearson was able to cite similar instances from his experience. p. n. it limited the possibility for adequately rewarding competent and hard workers.

. 'scientific management' actually was useful in ensuring effective production.10. for instance: Wow. 'Allure of Violence'. In fact. TAD.' Although managers repeatedly struggled to train boss boys. 685. As Breckenridge himself writes: 'Violence served to maintain the rhythm of work. 21 August 1919.unless you assaulted the boss boy and took all those first-aid badges and put them on yourself and said. And he was given a hiding. Going for Gold. While the interview material is fascinating. paragraph 13.violence and the very movement of the ore line itself. People learned by being beaten and. you lashed until you finished your contract . made essentially the same point: 'There was no question about the sincerity of the manager nor the compound manager. Reich.. that guy there.. But his informants themselves describe violence as the means of establishing work rhythms.. He helped out. If you started as a lasher. 'the experience of supervisory violence' tended to be restricted 'to new workers. Going for Gold. once skilled or promoted.'85 The interdependence that his informants described was much more primitive than 'Fordism'. pp. they really beat Beatings [sic] us. 'Hey. the union representative to the Low-grade Ore Commission. come on. what had I a pair of boots for!'"83 Every management effort to improve 'native efficiency' by training and installing 'boss boys' on the mines fell foul of the maximum average system. with regard to his instructions [to treat the workers well]. on the whole. The white miner didn't mind if you beat up the boss boy as long as you pushed the people: 'Keep up the dust!' If you wanted to be a boss boy. you get a beating. Moodie. But as soon as your tonnage fell.. This content downloaded from 158. It was . as Breckenridge chooses to dub the system. promotions themselves came about through violence. In the mines. p.84 Breckenridge assumes that it was piecework that encouraged boss boy beatings. You'd say.488. In fact.301. 65. It [the sjambok] would really get in. machine-drillers made more money than boss boys . Moodie. p. if he does not get the work out of the boys. you're beaten.170. As Richard Barry knew decades before. Breckenridge. in the actual hustle and din underground. 82 83 84 85 86 TAD.86 When I interviewed a group of older clerks at Vaal Reefs in 1984 they told me that. Then you would become the boss boy. It would land on your ribs and we'd load.Maximum Average Violence 565 not he gets fired as well because the work is not done. come on'. If you don't load. he stands a chance of being fired. The system precluded the development of more than very moderate wage differentials in the black labour force. What position do you put him in?82 In 1930. the boss boys themselves became the ones doing the hitting. I very much doubt there was piecework involved. LGOC. but it had been abolished in 1913 with the introduction of the maximum average system. take [him] behind the packs". you took the job. and it served as the backbone of the underground work hierarchy. Breckenridge quotes Kathazo Sodlala as follows. the boss boy wants to push things. If you don't take out the stuff in front of you.. 'Come on. the 'rhythm of work' had long since been maintained by violence alone . To quote Geoff Livingstone one final time: 'The team leader was a man's man. as Breckenridge says. in the 1940s and 1950s: There were no promotions underground at that time.jstor. Big badge. They said. or to the very young'.and without the responsibility. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. He was your lackey. Paragraph 2. avoided the worst of it. The fijas would really get in. "Listen. October 1930. LGMC.44 on Wed. 66-7. lash'. then the mine captain and the shift boss want to know "What the hell. No doubt. Experienced progressive managers' suggestions that 'a special schedule of rates might be established for boss boys and be excluded when arriving at the maximum average rates permitted' were simply ignored by the Chamber.

When things changed. that overall in the mines things were much improved with regard to assaults: 'A group of extremely intelligent Xosas on the E.10.jstor. In the early years of gold mining. No one has to be taught his job underground.566 Journal of Southern African Studies Robert Mahlati at Libanon confirmed this account.except how well a man could fight'. they were unanimous'. as underground supervisors pushed for results at the point of production. but surely an improvement over the older discipline by violence.. Violence was built into the very rhythm of underground work. matters got no better.M. as Breckenridge's informants so graphically described. Invariably they ended up turning a blind eye to structural tendencies to violence. the missionary. which largely obviated the violent initiation experienced by all of the older workers.' 87 Conclusion After the end of the 1960s. conditions in this regard were enormously improved. workers came to see this. seeking to establish competent management in a world without incentives. p. it became clear that 'the endless violence of mine work' had depended. on structural consequences of the maximum average system. or sometimes struggled unavailingly against the current. not on particular conceptions of masculinity (although these certainly reflected it) but .. 12. who had been working on the mines ever since the mines had been here told me. he was fired. a semi-legal procedure which black and white workers both hated. there was no comparison between the old conditions and the present day conditions and they are much improved. It was much more likely that the incompetent or lazy worker would be 'charged'. Buckle was told by a group of workers that.. This was why people worked so badly. no longer called forth rhythms of sustained violent supervision. 15 October 1913. by 1913. Difficult as it is to imagine.88 However that may be. 61. They were after production. much more simply. p. although on the surface it was tame.170.. The ethic of manliness remained. productivity leapt ahead. Methods to control wages gave rise to a system of production noted not only for its racial 87 Ibid. You might well find a boss boy who had been in the school of mines pushing a cocopan [tramming trolley] because another lasher was brave enough to hit that boss boy and take all his badges off. This content downloaded from 158. for all its rigours. blacks were initiated into the rigours of underground mining by violent assault. Black workers resigned themselves to the system. See TAD. When the maximum average system was replaced by the Patterson Scale (which remunerated black mine workers in accordance with their skills and trained them thoroughly). in the 50 years after Buckle's hearings. of course.. but the mining system. The white man wouldn't care whether his boss boy had been [replaced]. an elaborate training system was instituted. There was no training centre or ability training in those days.. violent whites (and certainly boss boys who hit) risked their own jobs. 'There were no criteria for choosing boss boys in those days .P. K358. a group of Vaal Reefs black mineworkers told Mark Ntshangase in 1984: 'If he was afraid of his men. Managers resigned themselves to inefficiency. Nowadays men know their jobs and are not pushed around.. and an aggressive man chosen in his place. production suffered. saying: On those days there was a bit of roughness. After things changed in the late 1960s. Moreover. The fact that violence was no longer built into the process of production as the primary form of labour control meant that it was used less often and could be policed more easily. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to http://about. offset by abundant cheap labour.44 on Wed. clambering to a precarious seniority based on skill and strength.R. In the longer run. 88 Buckle told Theodora Williams. People could become team leaders by means of roughness. as Geoff Livingstone so eloquently testified. The naked coercion associated with the maximum average system was gone.

jstor.44 on Wed. NY 14456. reorganisation of production might eliminate some structural aspects of violence underground. USA.10.Maximum Average Violence 567 ultra-exploitation but also for the casual violence of its marginally efficient systems of supervision and labour control. T.170. Geneva. Whereas. incentives providing useful alternatives to institutionalised violent supervision had to wait until the eventual abandonment of the maximum average system in the This content downloaded from 158. DUNBAR MOODIE Hobart and William Smith Colleges. 29 Jun 2016 23:57:53 UTC All use subject to . as in Crown Mines after 1913. E-mail: moodle@hws.