Phiyega: 34 dead, 78 injured

2012-08-17 11:50

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has revealed that the number of mineworkers who died when police opened fire on protestors yesterday stands at 34.

Addressing the media at the Lonmin conference centre, Phiyega, flanked by senior police officers, said 78 people were injured and 259 arrested for a number of charges including public violence, murder and attempted murder, malicious damage to property, armed robbery, illegal gathering and possession of dangerous weapons.

Phiyega said six firearms, including the one stolen from one of two police officers who were hacked to death by the protestors on Monday, were retrieved from protesters yesterday.

Police video footage was screened which showed a group of protesters charging at the police as they attempted to break up the gathering yesterday.

In the video, the protesters are seen charging at public order police firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

As the police retreated into armoured vehicles, the group of protestors continued charging, at which point they were shot with live ammunition.

“When the police started using barbed wire fencing, the group of protestors armed with dangerous weapons and firearms hastily flanked the vehicles deploying the wire.

They were met by members from the police who tried to repost the advance with water cannon, teargas and stun grenades.

The attempt was unsuccessful and the police members had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group,” said Phiyega.

Phiyega said a total of 530 police officers drawn from various units across the country were sent to the scene yesterday.

She said the police had acted within the parameters of the law and in self-defence.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa has also arrived at the conference and President Jacob Zuma is expected to visit the area this afternoon.

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