Different versions of Lonmin shooting

2012-08-17 18:03

Johannesburg - Conflicting versions abounded on Friday of exactly what happened before 34 people were killed in a clash between police and striking miners in the North West.

A shoot-out erupted on Thursday when police sought to disperse armed workers who had gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

By that time, the area had already seen 10 deaths in violent protests in the past week.

After a call on the miners to disarm themselves, the group - singing and hitting their spears against pangas - starting moving down the hill to a nearby informal settlement.

Police tried to intercept them using water cannons, teargas, and stun grenades.

The workers started running in different directions, some heading for the open veld and others toward an informal settlement.

The Times newspaper reported that police had used rubber bullets and teargas on the advancing miners and only resorted to live ammunition when a striking worker pulled out a shotgun and fired.

The Sowetan reported that striking miners "appeared" to have fired on police, but described the group as "peacefully gathering" who were advanced upon by the police.

'Kill us to please the whites'

Both the Times and Sowetan reported that one of the wounded miners shouted defiantly at the police "Kill us to please the abelungu (whites)".

Beeld newspaper described the striking miners as "oproeriges" (rioters).

The paper reported they were armed with pangas and assegais as they stormed the police line.

Police were reported as being nervous because they believed the striking miners had two firearms that had been taken from two police officers killed earlier in the strike.

The Star newspaper journalist Poloko Tau gave a first-person account of the shooting.

He said police had made a "well-planned attack that turned a protest into a kill zone".

The day had begun when the head of the North West police, Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, promised to end the strike, he wrote.

"No one, not the unions, the protesters on the hill, or the journalists at the scene expected the mayhem that followed," Tau wrote.

According to him, the shooting began when a group of protesters moved down the hill towards an informal settlement.

Police began advancing on the group who then scattered with the authorities giving chase.

Tau said police maintained they were fired on first, but he did not mention seeing this first-hand.

  • FinalJustice - 2012-08-17 18:10

    Sharpville 2012 - Here we go again. Barbarism can not be eradicated by a change of government. Hail the uneducated masses in control of this country, we created a monster. And you thought you had it all worked out, you worthless excuse of a ruling party, you ...

      marvinmatholo - 2012-08-17 18:31

      the ruling party is not blame! yes the masses are uneducated the two unions manipulated the situation

  • freddie.miff - 2012-08-17 18:13

    The miners started all of this with their illegal, violent strike and now that force was met with force they cry foul. Sorry, you got what you deserved.

  • mofstok - 2012-08-17 18:16

    Seriously, are we running out of things to write about this incident? Is sensationalism all that is left now? For goodness sake!

  • marikana.resident - 2012-08-17 18:33

    Luckily the unions will get away with murder again . God bless our unions.

  • mica.gogome - 2012-08-17 18:37

    Everyone dies his own death.They were worned abt their death.They chose to be stubbon.Police will never beg down to any fight.We livn once.Who can walk straight to his death like an ox to a slaughter.The force used was propotional to the circumstance.Job well done by our police officer.I wish i were there with them.

  • Solly Moepi - 2012-08-17 18:42

    Personally what SAPS has done by shooting those miners was cold and very unfair. what happened to rubber bullets of which if was used, we would not have so many fatalities & to the people who says they got what they deserved YOU'VE NEVER LOST A BREAD WINNER & SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF! Those officers must be held accountable, period.

  • John Peter Steyn - 2012-08-17 19:35

    Don't carry Pangas, knopkierries etc to a strike. Placed in the same harrowing position surely anyone would defend themselves. That said though, this has got to be the saddest most regrettable happening in our young democracy's existence.

      Wally Walters - 2012-08-17 21:07

      If you dont respect the policeman respect the weapons they carry

  • Nomaswazi Mahlangu - 2012-08-17 19:58

    This is so heartbreaking! The people we should go to when we are troubled (police) have turned into brutal monsters villains! May God intervene..

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