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Platinum, along with gold, has done very well during the current financial crisis.

Try telling that to the people of South Africa, where eighty per cent of the world’s platinum comes from.

Policemen fired at protesters yesterday who were demanding a better wage from the British-owned Lonmin platinum producer.

They were asking for the equivalent of a thousand pounds a month from a company who will no doubt continue to profit from the rise in the value of platinum, despite the value of its own stock taking a dive as a result of the protests that have engulfed all of South Africa’s mines recently.

The images of the dead bodies reminded many observers of the days of apartheid.

Well, there is a difference – under apartheid an efficient white elite ran a system that benefitted the whites at the expense of the blacks.

Today’s black elite is corrupt and inefficient and has resulted in large numbers of whites joining the already poverty-stricken blacks at the bottom.

All the while, South Africa has continued to prosper as a powerhouse of Africa.

Jacob Zuma has cut short his holiday to visit the mine where 34 people were killed.

Perhaps, he should forget about holidays and start listening to what black people are saying on the street – that life under apartheid was better than the one secured through freedom.