Premier: Marikana massacre avoidable

2012-08-17 13:44

Johannesburg - North West Premier Thandi Modise has condemned the "anarchy" which culminated in a shootout between police and striking workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

"Survival of the fittest, anarchy and lawlessness shouldn't characterise wage negotiations in the mining sector," she said in a statement on Friday.

"This is the most tragic labour dispute with untold misery that South Africa has ever experienced, which could have been avoided had parties involved respected the law."

Police moved in on protesters encamped on a hill near the mine on Thursday, after days of negotiations.
According to National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni, 36 people were killed. The police ministry confirmed that "over 30" people died.

Another 10 people, including police officers and security guards, have been killed since protests at the mine began last Friday.

Union rivalry, higher wages

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.

Modise extended her condolences to the families who had lost loved ones in Thursday's clash and called for calm.

"We wish to reiterate our call for cessation of hostilities and for a return to the negotiation table," she said.

Lonmin chairperson Roger Phillimore said in a statement that the platinum producer was "treating the developments around police operations [on Thursday] with the utmost seriousness".

"The SA Police Service [SAPS] have been in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend..."

Shooting likened to Sharpeville

Phillimore denied that the shooting was to do with Lonmin's labour relations.

"It goes without saying that we deeply regret the further loss of life in what is clearly a public order, rather than labour relations-associated matter."

The SA Institute of Race Relations condemned the police's action, and likened it to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in which 69 people died and 180 were seriously wounded.

It claimed that there was "clear evidence that policemen randomly shot into the crowd".

"There is also evidence of their continuing to shoot after a number of bodies can be seen dropping and others turning to run."

The SAIRR felt this was "completely unacceptable".

"... Even if the police were provoked or shot at during yesterday's incident, or were angry at the killing of two police officers in the days before, no disciplined and properly-trained policeman would shoot into a crowd."

ANC blamed

The Institute wrote in an open letter to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa last year criticising "unlawful police behaviour" after Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane was killed, allegedly by rubber bullets fired by police.

The Socialist Party of Azania claimed the death toll in Thursday's shooting was close to 50 and blamed the African National Congress.

"One can even say their deaths are as a direct consequence of the ANC's comprador policies," president Lybon Tiyani Mabasa said in a statement.

"Even in death, the shattered bodies of the black worker accrues profit for the rapers of continents and destroyers of nations, with the eager support from the ANC government and its storm-troopers."

Mabasa predicted that blame for the violence would be directed at Amcu, "the less favoured union that sought to operate outside of the mantle of [the Congress of SA Trade Unions] Cosatu [and its aligned union] NUM".

Sopa said it knew "with certainty" that the nationalisation of national resources would end exploitation of the black working class.

"The ANC however, as government, has made damned sure that the issue of nationalisation, as a principled strategy, dies an early and sudden death...," Mabasa said.

  • john.loveland.9 - 2012-08-17 13:56

    "anarchy and lawlessness shouldn't characterise wage negotiations in the mining sector," Wake up. This is not a wage dispute but a union turf war.

  • obadia.segwape - 2012-08-17 13:59

    too late mrs premier for u and the miners

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-08-17 14:00

    Dont blame the police! Blame the unions who encited this. Anyone watching the video coverage can see,even after being warned,the protesters still continued to barge forward. Two police have already died,so I do not blame them in the slightest! It baffels my brain what Malema was doing there,to talk to the miners??? Why? This is harming the country in so many ways and now the police are the baddies! If you want to do the crime,then be prepared for the punishment that comes!

  • mario.polanski.3 - 2012-08-17 14:03

    Thandi, did you see how close the bodies fell to the police officers. They fired as a last resort to save their own lives. That had zero other option, and I will never apportion any blame whatsoever on the police. That is why I believe Sharpeville was completely justified, as a small band of police officers were confronted by thousand of blood crazed militants, only intent on chopping and bludgeoning them to death. The Sharpeville police had every justification to start firing. The police anywhere in the world have the duty to combat anarchy, and use force in direct proportion to the threat to their lives. I hope a Hector Peterson like memorial with gushing water fountains and marble facades are erected, and that the policemen involved are held to account sixty years down the line, even though they are completely blameless for the massacre

  • RobWol - 2012-08-17 14:04

    The police in our country are another breed of animal all together. But to shot people dead who where just trying to get a point across that they obviously needed more money to survive .... this is to me murder on a grand scale and the police too must be held accountable! You cannot say and eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth and who for the record gave the order to shot ... the mine would be my guess as they were not ready to give in on the wage neg. They are just worried about meeting their production for the year! Very sad and 30 breadwinners as the area is so poor are lost so up goes crime .. wonder if the asses at the mine thought of that when the order was given shot to kill to maintain law and order?

  • mike.clery - 2012-08-17 14:04

    "The SA Institute of Race Relations ... claimed that there was "clear evidence that policemen randomly shot into the crowd". This is tragic in many ways but the use of the term "crowd" is deliberately misleading. The eTV footage shows an armed mob storming the police, who'd already had two of their members hacked to death.

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-08-17 14:08

    Whats the issue about checking comments suddenly,before they are posted??????Why have a sight to write your own opinion on,then stop all comments??????????

  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-08-17 14:11

    Ban all unions. Lock up their leaders for using workers as canon fodder.

  • sean.efstratiou - 2012-08-17 14:13

    "The ANC however, as government, has made damned sure that the issue of nationalisation, as a principled strategy, dies an early and sudden death...," Mabasa said You honestly believe that nationalisation would be better, the fat cats would get fatter and ALL the mines would be striking not cause of wanting more money but that their money hasn't been paid at all !! Wake up PEOPLE

  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-08-17 14:14

    Ban all unions and jail their leaders for using workers as canon fodder...

  • tshepo.maganedisa - 2012-08-17 14:14

    Amen to Mabasa - this incident should be a highlight to the ANC to open the nationalisation of mine, we cant allow our mineral resources be exploited at the expense of our people. Until the freedom charter is fully implemented this country will never be free - i dont care who says what. Minority (shareholders) cannot be the one who benefits while majority of South Africans (both black and white) are still sleeping without food or proper housing and yes i mean black and white

  • christof.coetzee - 2012-08-17 14:17

    Thats the spirit, disempower SAPS even more. Why are union members carrying weapons, why are they killing and looting and vandalizing?? A lot of citizens share the same feelings as SAPS, we are all sick and tired of living with violent, vandalistic rubbish who think its their birthright to take and kill and do as they like.

  • ken.rowe.509 - 2012-08-17 14:19

    Fact is that the cops were shot at first. The attacking armed strikers got what they deserved.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-08-17 14:39

    So easy with hindsight. If you didn't do anything to prevent this, your comments now are superflous. Many people far away from NW could see HKGK, why not you?

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-08-17 14:46

    Shame the idiot, wages were only brought at the end. Prior to that it was two unions fighting for turf on the mine.

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-08-17 14:49

    Shoot them all.

  • seymore.butt - 2012-08-17 14:50

    Yes it was avoidable if the unions would have followed the law while protesting instead of turning on to the police!

  • themba.qwabe.1 - 2012-08-17 14:53

    violence will not benefit anyone no matter which side it comes from. Opportunistic criticism and blame fails to address the root cause of what we see our society has adopted as means of addressing their grieviences.If we want to proceed on this route we not going anywhere anytime soon. The challenge is that we do less introspection and all the wrong things cant continue mentioning because they are common sense but we keep ignoring them cause it serves some . BAD

  • richard.compere.7 - 2012-08-17 14:56

    Always after the fact. Where was she when everything was happening over the last two weeks. Sitting on her fat butt in a cosy office again. Typical ANC leadership!!!

  • peterjohnjnb - 2012-08-17 14:58

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! SOUTH AFRICA THIS CANNOT HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This sounds like a news report from the 80's. I understand and I accept that this situation is very complex - but we cannot find a reasonable explanation for the death of so many people. My heart just bleeds for their families...and for this country....

  • neilza - 2012-08-17 15:01

    like the 2 cops being killed was avoidable. they were willing to kill them so whats going to stop them killing more if no one intervenes. they used limited force at first (rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons) but that didnt work and looking at the video the miners were running towards the police. what do you do when that happens.

  • ian.flack2 - 2012-08-17 15:03

    Whilst a very sad event, maybe the Government will now get off their arses, accept that there is a problem, and deal with the lawlessness that has, and is continuing to invade all levels of our society.

  • anthony.okelly.98 - 2012-08-17 15:10

    In a confrontation, there reaches a point when even police need to shoot back. The crowd arrived with weapons not powder puffs.

      flysouth - 2012-08-17 15:59

      Yup - I would like to see what would happen in say, the US, where a mob gathers, heavily armed and kills 10 people at random - watch the M16 rounds fly!

      Nicolaas - 2012-08-17 16:17

      I agree Anthony, the police are there to protect and they have the right to protect themselves. I am inclined to say that they should have shot dead all those bastards! We are sick and tired of these protest, strikes, violence, intimidation etc. It is time to put this to a stop, permanently, if it means shooting these rubbish dead on site.!

  • lauren.freese.581 - 2012-08-17 15:49

    It is anarchy all round. How can it go from 'peaceful talks' to chaos like this? The mine workers have been killing innocent people since this all began. Yet this was allowed to continue. Instead of letting it reach this point, the perpetrators should have been found and arrested. There are some central instigators in this situation who should have been stopped. Some wonderful union leader would've started this mess and I guarantee it is not his/her life who has been takenaway. The power of a mob is unstoppable once it has been infiltrated with illogical and violent thinking. Now so many innocent lives have been lost. This is a disgrace to the democracy that we have all worked so hard for.

  • mnqophiso.ncume - 2012-08-17 16:31

    this very bad

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-08-17 17:19

    So easy with hindsight. If you didn't do anything to prevent this, your comments now are superflous. Many people far away from NW could see HKGK, why not you?

  • nkosinathi.nkosi.37 - 2012-08-17 17:21

    so shooting randomly with live bullets is another defense mechanism the police are trained to exercise when dealing with strikers!, that means we gona die in townships!

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