Zuma defends Marikana cops

2012-12-14 14:17
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(Picture: Supplied)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has defended top police officials and the actions of police officers involved in the deaths of 34 striking workers at Marikana in August.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, Zuma said the unrest was a result of a dispute over wages at Lonmin platinum mine, and that the police minister or national police commissioner should not take the fall for what happened.

"Nobody expected Marikana," he said.

"Now you can't say the minister of police is responsible for that, to start the thing. When the workers were striking, they had every other kind of weapon in their hands. In fact, long before the shooting, 10 people had died, including two policemen, two security policemen.

"How many other people would have died if, for example, police did not move to disarm these people? Nobody can tell. At a spur of the moment, a mistake happened. Now if such a mistake happened, you throw the minister away? I don't know on what basis," he told the British newspaper.

Zuma added that the establishment of the judicial commission of inquiry into the shootings shows how much South Africa has changed.

"You would not have had that during apartheid days. That's the beauty of democracy, because it doesn't mean that when you have got democracy there will be no such mishap and shocking things. I think the test is how does the country handles that. To me, that is the difference."

Zuma also said that Marikana was a "wake-up" call on the conditions of workers, and that the mining industry needed to transform in order to prevent similar strikes and violence in the future.

- News24
Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry
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