Violence was ‘long in the making’

2012-08-17 14:30

The violence that erupted at Lonmin’s Marikana mine had been long in the making, the ANC Youth League said.

“The signs were loud and clear for all to see during the Impala tragedy,” the league said in a statement today.

“We refused to see them, we were happy to accept then, as we did now, that the problem is and was trade union rivalry.”

The league said an exploitative mining regime, capitalist greed, and poverty were to blame.

It also condemned the use of live ammunition in public order policing.

“(We) call on Minister (Nathi) Mthethwa to conduct a full investigation to explain to South Africans how it is that police turned on our people and killed them, when the right to life is paramount.”

A total of 34 people were killed in a shoot-out that erupted near the mine yesterday when police tried to disperse striking miners.

More than 78 people were injured.

Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on police today said it was too early to blame anyone for the shooting.

“Playing any form of blame game at this stage would be irresponsible and insensitive,” acting committee chairperson Annelize van Wyk said in a statement.

“We need to have all facts before we pass judgement. We call on all commentators to respond in a sensitive and responsible manner, and to refrain from making statements that can further entice violence and endanger more lives.”

Van Wyk said the portfolio committee supported a request by Mthethwa for a commission of inquiry into what had happened.

The committee also wanted the inquiry to investigate developments over the past eight months at the mine.

Van Wyk said the training of police also needed scrutiny.

“We need to look at the training of police members, (and) relevant equipment in relation to the level of violence they are confronted with.”

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said strikes in South Africa were becoming synonymous with violence and intimidation.

“The tragic events of the past week cast a negative light over South Africa and the willingness of stakeholders to enter robust debate,” Sacci said in a statement.

The Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania expressed shock at the number of people killed in Marikana.

“We strongly condemn the barbaric conduct of the police and the government’s indifference in resolving the dispute, which has been going on for more than a week already.”

Payco called for Mthethwa and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to be fired.

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