I will leave it to the Marikana Enquiry to decide who is at fault. Generally, however, there can be no reason for any protestor or striker to carry sticks or "cultural weapons".
I suspect that the real reason for carrying these items is for their intimidation value. This is particularly so in the case of strikes where strikers tend to gather at the employer's gates, brandishing sticks & the like in order to send a clear warning about what might lie in store for those who may choose not to join the strike.
It is high time that a law is passed prohibiting strikers & protestors from carrying these items. No one can argue that the absence of these items will in any way limit one's right to strike or to demonstrate. No one has a right to intimidate in a democracy. There is no need and should be no place for such weapons in a peaceful demonstration or strike. Had this simple measure been in place prior to Marikana, the incident may well have been avoided.
Even if one suspends disbelief and accepts that some indeed carry these items for valid traditional reasons, it is all too easy for someone armed with a stick to resort to its use as a weapon if the situation becomes heated. Sadly, and all too often in this country, strikes and protests do tend to become heated affairs at the drop of a hat.
This issue needs to be discussed by our communities in the hope that general agreement on such a ban can be arrived at by consensus. In the absence thereof, I doubt anyone will have the courage to introduce and enforce this common-sense and evidently necessary measure.
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