Cops had no option - Phiyega

2012-08-17 20:02

Rustenburg - Police were forced to use live ammunition in a deadly clash with protesters near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, police chief Riah Phiyega said on Friday.

"The police had to use force to protect themselves from the... group," Phiyega told reporters in Rustenburg.

"The militant group stormed towards the police, firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons... Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force."

She said the shooting that erupted left 34 people dead and at least 78 injured.

Another 10 people, including police officers and security guards, had by that time been killed in violent protests in the past week.

Phiyega said she had given police "responsibility to execute the task they needed to do".

'No time for finger-pointing'

"This is no time for blaming, this is no time for finger-pointing. It is a time for us to mourn...," she said.

A total of 259 people were arrested and six firearms recovered.

On Thursday afternoon, police moved in on protesters encamped on a hill near the mine, after days of negotiations.

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.

On Friday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa claimed there was no union rivalry, but that the NUM had "internal issues" which had nothing to do with his union.

He broke down in tears describing the shooting at the mine, which began shortly after he had pleaded with workers to leave the hilltop.

"I told them to leave...I pleaded, I pleaded," he told journalists in Sandton.

Workers had earlier refused to leave, vowing to stay on the hill even if they were killed.

Mathunjwa said he had wanted to go back and die with his slain colleagues when he saw them fall.

'Getting away with murder'

The shooting, which was the culmination of a week of violent protests at the mine, was widely condemned.

The SA Communist Party's North West secretary Madoda Sambatha said Amcu leaders Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekilethe should be arrested.

He claimed they were responsible for co-ordinating the "barbaric act".

Democratic Alliance MP Lindiwe Mazibuko called for the police's use of live ammunition to be "fully interrogated" in Parliament.

She said by getting these answers, Parliament could ensure that such horrific incidents never happen again.

The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement that mine management should be made to account for the deaths.

"We also demand an investigation on the role of labour brokers in this whole [saga]," he said.

The remuneration and working conditions of miners also needed to be addressed, as "these mining companies have been allowed to get away with murder... for far too long".

Residents of an informal settlement near the mine expressed shock at the violence.

"I cannot believe that this happened just on our doorstep," said community member Angy Peters.

"We did not expect the strike would end like this."

  • mabotja2 - 2012-08-17 20:20

    rubbish ,she must resign...assign to kill innocent people by zuma

      mabhekana.nzuza - 2012-08-17 20:32

      Out of point, Zuma did not instruct that rubbish 2issue such a senseless statement.

      jessica.l.moller.1 - 2012-08-17 21:02

      Ah and the security guards that were burnt by the strikers? The two cops that were hacked to death before they even started to defend themselves! ARE THEY NOT INNOCENT and DON'T THEIR families deserve justice????

  • mmatzener - 2012-08-17 20:21

    Nobody remembers the Cato Manor Massacre of 25 January 1960 when nine policemen were hacked to death by a crowd similar to those at Marikana. It was the precursor to Sharpville. The Cato Manor police were refused permission to fire on the crowd and died horrible deaths. Two security guards were burned to death in their van by this crowd - now they want to blame the police for defending themselves - No way Lindiwe Mazibuko....! The real culprits are the instigators.

      aabushny - 2012-08-17 20:38

      Workers have the right to strike,it is in the constitution and the Police have the right to defend themselves whenever they are attacked...You are right, the instigators of this violence should be held accountable and must be arrested.... - 2012-08-18 07:33

      Mazibuko didn't blame the police. She said there must be a full investigation. Logically there is always room for improvement and if the police had it over again they may do it differently. But we need an independent investigation. It's already been ordered I believe

      Jason - 2012-08-18 09:19

      I am against the DA on this one. Cops were 100% right.

  • tw2066 - 2012-08-17 20:23

    Gee, arent the Unions part of the tripe artite alliance? And Phyega was chosen by Spear Showerkop, gigolo of the alliance? And SACP is also the jester part of the tripe partite alliance? So, bottom line is that the fingers can only point inward. Be great not have this pinned on an oppressed minority as is the norm... And to think those who support the ANC and their lackeys are supporting mass murder - mmmmm.

  • reg.nagel - 2012-08-17 20:30

    anc...mass murder.

  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-08-17 20:33

    This Riah chick is the best police chief we've had since the cANCer took over. No doubt about it and good for her for giving the instruction to stand up to these panga wielding thugs. Well done SAPS!

  • Jennifer - 2012-08-17 20:42

    ~ a sad day These people have been used, riled up and finally betrayed by their own ANC. They should have been educated, they should have been helped but they were used as the people were used by Cetchwayo at Rorkes Drift. The ANC seems to have wanted to keep their people uneducated to keep their vote... ~ If it were not so, then why have the ANC NOT educated people? WHERE IS ALL THE TAX MONEY? These people should have been taught instead of kept in the 18th Century! If I was there, I would surely have defended myself too. Madness. So sad.

  • strauss.steven - 2012-08-17 20:43

    look at the video and you will see that these barbarians were out to kill. what must the police do??? ANC are union puppets!! the ANC doesnt have their own identity, they are controlled by unions.

  • mark.canthaylett - 2012-08-17 20:46

    To all those people who say the police were wrong to defend them selves why do you not go out to a protest and see how it feels for them to be spat on and threatened with there lives. It is no joke knowing that at any time you can get shot, stabbed or even have things throws at you just because you are sent there to do a thankless job to protect people that do not have the time of day for you. It is time that the general public wakeup and see what is happening around them. I say to hell with all the wage strikes stop sending the poor police men and women to protect the fat cats that do not give a dam about anyone except themselves and to those people that take part in the protests stop killing innocent people that did not ask to be there to look after you and make sure you behave. Grow up and stop making excuses for your incompetence to behave like a human. Act like an animal and expect to get treated like one.

      strauss.steven - 2012-08-17 20:51


  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-08-17 20:48

    Hope Riah pulls into action at TUT now, and also when next the municipal workers start throwing trash around. At last someone with balls to stand up to these thugs. Well done.

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-08-17 20:49

    I truly hate it when emotions overcome reason. The biggest condemners of this shootings have to seriously review this situation again and accept that the only other options for the officers were A.) Get maimed/killed while sticking to clearly ineffective methods and B.) Run like the wind. I believe it's not very easy to keep a level head when you're being outflanked and shot at.

      slwane.nk1 - 2012-08-17 23:42

      I realy agree with u der...its irresponsible 4 one to be selective whn commenting with dis matter stating police brutality....overlooking de reason of police reaction...People must learn 2 respect de law so dat de law will respect dem.....wht were de pangas doing in de hands of dis humble and noble protesters..?where were dey advancing 2,whn dey get shot?ppl mus nt lead dis country astray.....nyc1 i like ur comment..

  • jessica.l.moller.1 - 2012-08-17 20:59

    Im so for the cops! They people with equal rights and lives that are the exact same as those workers! I doubt they were like HEY I got a fun idea I'm going to go risk my life and family to stand guard at a strike! Seriously they did what they could and what anyone else would of done after finding two innocent security guards burnt to death and two of of their own hacked to death!

  • IcemanGP - 2012-08-17 21:03

    History repeating itself. Sharpville comes to mind, But hey, back then it was the So called dreaded apartheid police. Now it's the dreaded cANCer police. This day should not be washed over.

  • dave.willard.79 - 2012-08-17 21:08

    \\She said by getting these answers, Parliament could ensure that such horrific incidents never happen again.\\ - The only way this could be prevented from happening is when people learn that they should NOT threaten and undermine other people.....If you decided to take part in those actions - well - then you should expect to die a brutal death. Cops are the thin line of defense and when people start to expect from them to \run away\ instead of defend themselves - well - then this country is all f@ked up... Well done to all those who acted against the killer strikers.

  • shaylene.stenger - 2012-08-17 21:16

    In my honest opinion I probably would have done the same if I were a saps member. 2 collegues of mine being hacked to death, all attempts to de arm the crowd fails, tension is high, I'm out numbered by hundreds, crowds carrying spears,pangas, knobkirries and knowing I have a family at home who would like to see me again and my life is in danger. I sure would have pulled the trigger with that mob coming my way.

      jessica.l.moller.1 - 2012-08-17 21:31

      no Shaylene didn't you know if you a cop in this country damed if you do and damed if you don't! Like ah you cops don't find and kill the bad people you useless! Then they go up against bad people then it's omw what a disgrace you are for killing! You should just die as a cop and not fight back! I mean you getting paid to die not to protect!

      shaylene.stenger - 2012-08-17 21:44

      Agreed..... What sadens me is people are crusifying them because they defended themselves. Let's remove saps out of the scenario, if they hadn't been there and violence broke out people would complain and crusify them because they weren't there. I have a 2 close friends who are in the service both said they would have most probably done the exact thing. If its any one to blame its the strikers themselves for their terrible aggression and behaviour towards the 10 innocent victims they butchered and for anyone else who came up against them . Yes the salaries are shocking but u can protest in peace. There is a saying that goes \ you live by the sword you die by the sword\.

  • mohammed.lattif.7 - 2012-08-17 21:17

    The DA appears to have forgotten Hangberg very quickly. Where was the parliament,enquiry then?

  • saziso.william - 2012-08-17 21:18

    if you say instigators must be brought to book ,then oyu talk about the shop stewards ,for both unions.

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-08-17 21:21

    Irrespective of the merits in whoever's favour or disfafour in the mine/trade union/workers dispute, the visuals publicly available show without a doubt that the protestors/instigators were the assaulters. The police were actually retreating when they fired their weapons. The horribly vicious weapons the protestors were armed with are clearly visible on the visuals, including on the still photos. It is nonsense to try to excuse the carrying of such arms with the old favourite "traditional" cop out. Rubbish! We are grown ups with some brains of our own. And one must not ignore the evidence of some traditional rituals carried out prior to the confrontation to prepare the aggressors for a confrontation. The leaders and the performers of those rituals MUST be prosecuted for murder. It includes the trade union leaders. The latter must at least be guilty of culpable homocide, which is the causing of death as a result of your actions or omissions not using your common sense ("gesonde verstand".) The politicians must be very cautious with the games they play. The police may not be everyone's favourite but even with all their shortcomings they remain the only, albeit very thin, blue line between us and total anarchy. Rather find the real causers of the confrontation and PROSECUTE them. It may seem like the state taking sides but criminality must not be allowed to hide behind labour relations.

  • samuelk.mohlakoana - 2012-08-17 21:25

    Some pple r starting to comment lyk this started yesterday,Pres you wer quite all along,Mazibuko u ddnt say any word b4,analysts you start making baseless analysis,All of you political leaders you take things for granted then when things bcome tense you start acting as if you are doing something.we are tired of you nw. Just lyk AU that act after the weatern countries have acted on sturbon leaders eg Gadaffi s killing.

  • george.pito - 2012-08-17 21:31

    Ok maybe its time now to forget apartheid. The same thing happened in the past. people planted bombs for this and called freedom fighting others called it terrorism. Now we have BEE which since 1994 and even long before that were not relevant. The facts is that the situation were allowed to degrade to the extend that force had to be used. It is nothing new and the police commisioner did a great job. So did the police do with Sharpville. The question is dont we learn. There are very competent people in this country and if they happen to be white whats wrong with it. If the pilots are white so what the population figures of this country makes whites almost a like the Rhinos. if they forget this stupid politics and simply go back to the skills and the best man for the job this country can grow bigger than the states. Apartheid will never come back so rest the fears and lets all work for a rainbow nation. It will never be a rainbow simply because we are different and that makes 1+1 = 3. It is sad to say but in a way I think black people must try and look at this incident in a way as to put things into perspective as in the past the same thing happened now it is justified then it was not. Whites dont get bursaries, jobs are reserved. No white person can apply for a job as a trainee pilot it goes on and on. Why do we still have an issue about black and white. The president is called a showerhead he has many wives. If a white man has many wives he gets goes to jail. Just think about

  • ntemi.mark - 2012-08-17 21:43

    when going 2mass actions why do u carry all sorts of weapons,including so called traditional weapons&then expect when u starting fighting with those weapons the police will fire with apples&oranges,the organisers of that mass action has got a lot 2 answer,stop blaiming JZ,

  • george.pito - 2012-08-17 21:48

    Lets test democracy. Thumbs up for poliec action and vice versa. 24 hours to repsond like in an election.

  • ken.billson - 2012-08-17 21:51

    And this a so called civilized country

  • Jesse Rowe - 2012-08-17 21:54

    In 1878, during the 9th Border War in the Eastern Cape, 8,000 Xhosa warriors were killed after being deceived by a local traditional healer into believing that drinking an aloe-extract tea will turn the enemy's bullets into water. Historical fact. Seems like we have made little progress in almost 150 years. Those who are ignorant of their past are destined to repeat it...

  • Marios Stavrinou - 2012-08-17 21:55

    oh ya i mean if someones shooting at me i must spray them with water and hit them with rubber rounds , ya thats going to work , hes going to be putting lead not only through the polices head but through the hearts of the polices family , the police gave them more than enough time honestly they were just testing the police's patience , they didnt want to be nobel and just stand down , they want to fire live ammunition at police.

      Jesse Rowe - 2012-08-17 22:03

      Agreed. You must be daft to think you are going to storm with lethal weapons, and after been warned numerous times, an obviously and visibly armed-to-the-teeth and trained police contingent, survive it. Really.

  • ntemi.mark - 2012-08-17 22:16

    &the same time pple must be very carefull when they comment about this lives has lost there,no amount of money or comment will bring those lives back,so whatever u gonnna say think properly 1st,b4 u write anything 4the sake of those lives think 1st!

      irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-08-17 23:35

      ntemi ~ Think first? Pity those miners didn't because if their demands weren't so unbelievably ridiculous and their behaviour like absolute thugs, this might never have happened.

  • imam.madi.129 - 2012-08-17 22:24

    As a matter of principle, you raise a weapon against state security service when negotiation is made available to u, then sorry u must lose ur life instead of u taking a life. Its international law, ask Assad and FSA, they will both know best. Sad but hey that's the law that should keep all of us safe, hate it or like it, we need more bullets for those who want to terrorise others, finished and klaar.

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-08-17 23:37

      That is the truth. We can't have different laws and applications according to our personal grievances and demands. Nobody should be allowed any form of weaponry in their protests, and the police must be ruthless in putting down the lawlessness and disorder.

  • Neal Sing - 2012-08-18 00:01

    so the union leader knew prior to leaving that the police would kill the strikers.

  • elias.matlaila - 2012-08-18 07:05

    Self defense my ass if your father was one off those ppl killed would u still say is self is a mass ppl killed for fighting for their rights

      louis.langenhoven - 2012-08-18 09:35

      if my father was storming the police with a panga and assegai (and possibly a firearm) and he was killed I wouldv'e been mourning my fool of a father for his folly but I would not blame anyone else

  • dejaay.heineken - 2012-08-18 08:46

    its time the for the people who are striking to learn dat democracy it does not mean u can strike by threatening other peoples life or kill them! If this mines strikes know and understand the meaning of strike they will still be alive today but because of their babaric action that they learned under ground now thy had to learned hard way! SAPS commissioner u are right and u bring back dignity of police to community members that police are there to inforce law not babysit!

  • richard.barrett.739 - 2012-08-18 08:48

    I stand by what i believe , if some one threatens me with a spear and panga i would shoot ,SAPS are human not machines ,they also have family ,sorry to those who lost there lives but oh well

      louis.langenhoven - 2012-08-18 09:47

      I fully agree with you and support SAPS 100%. There is however one small question in the back of my mind and I haven's seen anyone commenting on it thus far. I realise its a tough call and I believe the police often get twisted into so many knots whenever they act that sometimes they might even become unsure of what is better. I wonder if the police (or at least a number of them) armed with shotguns (donshaal and rubber) couldn't have formed a "first wall" backed up by a 2nd wall with R5's. So when the attack started the first wall let them have it with no holds barred and if/when they have to reload or run out of ammo the 2nd wall is still in place to ensure their safety. I do believe that they could have pushed the storming crowd back with possibly less loss of life approaching it this way. I am no expert on crowd management and realise your personnel strength and availability will also play a role but just a thought

  • david.marais.14 - 2012-08-18 09:14

    This is the result of incompetency in the government, just as long as you don't touch their big salaries all will be fine!!!!!

  • thulanit3 - 2012-08-18 10:35

    Blame game: protesters blamed for charging/inciting violence.... police blamed for overreacting/trigger-happy....unions (amco/num) rivalry blamed for empty promises and orchestratin this barbaric approach....mine management blamed for their greediness/capitalists and exploitation of Julius Malema is going to blame Zuma...

  • charnelle.bester - 2012-08-18 10:57

    I do believe that the police acted reasonably. What would you do if 50 of these mofo's came storming at you with Panga's after they already killed 2 of your people!

  • riaan.croucamp.3 - 2012-08-18 20:55

    RIP Warrant Officer Tsietsi Hendrik Monene from the public order police in Mpumalanga and Warrant Officer SR Lepaaku from the North West public order police. The two officers were killed on Monday afternoon during violent protests at the mine. they were protecting me as a citizen of this Republic from people who has zero respect for private ownership, life, citizenry, democracy, art of negotiation or their fellow citizens. Well done SAPS. "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense" Sir Leonard Spencer Winston Churchill.

      slwane.nk1 - 2012-08-19 00:04

      Sir leonard....u r a responsible citizen.....thanks 4 dis comment....actualy we share de same centiment .....i dnt knw wether ada citizens of dis country we watching different scence frm de onces we saw.....whn barbaric rebels trying 2 overthrow the state's power into their own control...goverment reacted veri well by keeping de promise to protect its south africa u behave or else ....u 1way or ada.......dey'v taken it on a hard way...e

  • hans.moerdyk - 2012-08-19 12:24

    We have had enough of this type of hooliganism -Commisioner Riah Phiyega the nation backs you all the way, our police men and women slained long enough by unruly "peacefull striking" elements!!

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