This article reflects on the Marikana massacre of August 2012, subsequent violent strikes and responses by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a case study, and provides an analysis about whether these interventions bring transformative change or maintain the status quo in times of crisis. Events associated with Marikana are seen to be embedded in social structures of the time and part of deeper frictions and fractures of social transformation. The role that NGOs might play in this context must be interrogated as to their facilitation or hinderance of such social transformation. Interviews were conducted with representatives of NGOs intervening in Marikana that provided services of humanitarian assistance, and legal and psychosocial interventions and with mine workers and residents of Marikana about their experiences and views of these services. Findings from the study are illustrative of how NGOs were not primarily motivated to bring about lasting, transformative change but rather attempted to address immediate or short-term needs which, while important, did not account for underlying causes of the crises that they set out to address. Both ideological underpinnings of NGOs and structural conditions produced by state and capital impact on outcomes of interventions. Given these limitations, it is argued that there is a need for deep critical interrogation through praxis, for NGOs to intervene differently in times of crisis to bring 'real' change and transformation in the lives of those who are marginalized.
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