Zuma: S Africa 'Dismayed' By Mine Shooting
South Africa's president has announced an official inquiry into the shooting dead of 34 mine workers by police officers.
Having cut short an official trip to Mozambique to visit the scene of the killings at the Marikana mine, President Jacob Zuma told a news conference he was "saddened and dismayed" by what happened on Thursday.
He said the whole country was mourning and promised a full investigation into the incident, for which the mine workers and police have blamed each other.
Mr Zuma said: "We have to uncover the truth about what happened here. In this regard, I've decided to institute a commission of inquiry.
"The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident and to derive the necessary lessons too. This is a shocking thing."
Tweeting from the news conference, Sky's special correspondent, Alex Crawford, said: "Zuma offers 'sincere condolences to those who've lost loved ones.... Our thoughts are also with the police', he says"
Another tweet said: "Zuma; This is not an occasion for finger pointing and recriminations....Today challenges us to restore calm."
The president's comments came after South Africa's police chief said the officers who killed the striking miners were acting in self defence.
Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told a news conference officers at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine near Rustenburg had to use "maximum force to defend themselves" when they were charged by armed protesters.
She said 78 people were wounded in the violence and 259 arrested on charges ranging from public disorder to murder.
The trouble began when police were laying out barbed wire barricades to separate the 3,000 striking drill operators into "smaller groups more manageable for police to disarm", Ms Phiyega added.
Police opened fire with automatic weapons when protesters armed with machetes and sticks ignored orders to disperse. Officers used water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to try to quell the violence.
Ms Phiyega said six firearms were recovered, including the gun taken from a police officer killed on Monday.
The National Union of Mineworkers claims 36 people were killed and 86 injured.
South Africa Police spokesman Captain Dennis Adriao also told Sky News that officers' lives were in danger.
"The fact of the matter is it was a situation where had we not acted, it would have been a large amount of police officers that would have been killed," he said.
"At the beginning of the week two of our police officers were hacked and stabbed to death.
"The whole of the matter is that we in the police service are never one to act and take somebody's life unless our lives would be in danger."
One mine worker, who was looking for his missing uncle, told Crawford that police shot at the miners first.
"Yesterday was grey, the police was starting to shoot us. Yesterday we were running away," he said of the protest.
He said they will take revenge with magic because they do not have guns.
"We are going to use magic now, witchcraft, because we don't have the guns," he said. "We are going to send peace to these guys."
Crawford described it as the worst incident since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
She said there was a "very tense" atmosphere outside the mine, with large groups of people scattered over the scrubland and riot police watching on.
"They are angry, very, very angry. They feel this was all down to the police and they used unnecessary force," she added. "They feel let down by the government and let down by the police."
At least another 10 people - including two police officers - have died during the violence at the mine, which began a week ago.
Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said the deaths were deeply regretted - but emphasised the mine considers it "clearly a public order rather than a labour relations-associated matter".
The company's chief financial officer, Simon Scott, also released a statement.
It said: "On behalf of the whole company I would like to express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those employees who have lost their lives, not only in the events of Thursday but also in the days leading up to it, and of course to the families and colleagues of the two South African Police Service officers who died trying to protect others."
The dispute is about wages, but the violence has been fuelled by a power struggle between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers and the new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
The British Foreign Office has also sent condolences to those killed and injured.
A spokesman said: "We are shocked by the loss of life at the Marikana mine in South Africa and send our condolences to the friends and family of all those who have died or been affected.
"We welcome the commitment of the South African Government to resolving the situation through dialogue."
He added: "We further welcome President Zuma's announcement of a Commission of Inquiry, as well as National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega's confirmation that the South African Police Service would co-operate fully with an investigation into these tragic events."
what do you think?
Just seen the footage of this, it wasn't a random volley it was sustained gunfire around 15 seconds worth by a squad of armed police. Pretty shocking way to break up a strike.
Only thing that works in Africa. They don't do limited violence out there. Once a mob starts to break loose, someone's going to die or lose limbs. See those pangas they're carrying in the pics? If I was one of the outflanked coppers, I'd want them kept right back too. If it's them or me...it's going to be them.
Jan N Andy Oakley-Hills
South Africa !!! Nothing changes, life is cheap, democracy non-existent!!! Living in the dark ages still!!!!
Where are the protests outside the So African embassy, where are the calls for a boycott of the country, why are we playing cricket with these pariahs ? This is no better than what went on under the Aparthied regime and those currently protesting outside the Ecuadorean embassy had plenty to say then. Nothing has changed in So Africa only the skin colour of those in power
Correct, Dave. Capitalism is still in charge, now it's the black middle class shimmying upto the white middle class to exploit the majority. The ANC is just as anti-trade union as any capitalist party.
Morning Chris. I agree with you. The ANC were supposed to be the new dawn who were going to improve the lot of the blacks after sweeping away the white oppressors. All that has changed is the skin colour of the oppressors
The miners should all go to America and become multi-millionaire rap artists and make enough money to buy South Africa.
south africa full of low life makes me want to throw up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i blame nelson mandela.
Nelson Mandela is no saint. He betrayed the black people in SA. He promised so much and delivered so little
What did he have to deliver ? How could he deliver it ? He`s ------------------
They were promised work, they were promised things will change, they were told the police would treat black people fairly, they were promised an end to the squalor of the townships etc. Nothing of which seems to have been delivered
Mandela squandered an opportunity to re-build, instead he compromised with the white capitalist class, created a new black middle class and, together, they exploit the vast majority of the population - its 'class' apartheid now, where a black and white capitalist minority exploits and black and white majority.
Chris. I agree Mandela wasted a great opportunity and yet he is still regarded as a saint by the white anti-aparthied warriors who must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves at the way things have panned out in SA
black people are to bust accusing white people of the wrongs in their country. this just proves that the biggest enemy to the natives of south africa are infact their own people
not their own people........but their own elite,and in south africa that means mostly we britsand the other european elite like germany and the nederlands.the fact we employ black middle class to do our dirty work, is just a consequence of the blacks demanding freedom, and we pretending they have got it.
Joe. Just knew someone would still blame white europeans for the actions of the black govt who have been running the place for over 20 years. Michael is right.
The ruling class still in charge now we have it in Black and White .Nelson Mandela has to speak up for this cold blooded murder of Trade Unionists .Again all the white supreminists voice their bile that life is cheap in Africa it is we who make it cheap.
Mike. Er have you noticed but it is the blacks who have run the place for the last 20 years so placing the blame for all the countries ills on white supremacists saying life is cheap is a bit disingenuous
All the mines are owned by overseas companies with most of the wealth too,as for the comment on white supremacists I refer to the trolls on this site.
All that's happened in SA is the newly-created black middle class are in charge and work alongside the capitalist class to further exploit their own people. That was part of the deal when apartheid ended - that the ANC rejected their iffy brand of alleged socialism and stick to capitalism. They share the capitalist economy with the old guard of the capitalist elite. The vast majority of South Africans still live in terrible poverty, but its supposed black elite now work in cahoots with the old white elite - its CLASS apartheid.
Strikers with weapons, hope we don't see that here in the future. You can bet your life they'd be handed cups of tea rather than shot.
Facts are needed here. Who fired first? Did the miners simply charge down the police or did the police simply open fire? This is a terrible tragedy.
I worked in a coal mine with a chap who had returned to the UK after a spell working in South African gold mines, he told me that the black miners were treat like animals by the white mineowners, low wages and terrible, dangerous working conditions. I don't suppose much has changed since then, happy workers don't strike, despite what the Daily Mail and the Sun tell you.
John. I don't dispute what you say but who is it that oversees these low wages & poor working conditions from their comfortable offices. The ANC government who promised all this would end and didn't deliver
But who owns the mines Dave? A British Company?
John. No doubt true but didn't the Labour govt in this country introduce employment protection laws and the minumum wage ? What is there to stop the ANC doing something similar
Part of the compromise deal cooked up between Mandela's ANC and the SA govt was to drop their programme of 'radicalism' and leave the means of production - the economy - in the hands of the white capitalists by and large, while creating a new black middle class who would govern the country. for the vast majority of the population poverty, crime, bad housing and disease continues - a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. It's not about race, it's about CLASS. And it's about the freedom of the new black middle class to help the old white capitalist class exploit their own people. Similar in the way the Sinn Fein politicians compromised themselves for their own political careers, they are now part of a government that hands down austerity cuts to their own people.
You mean a real live Class War with a bit of racialism thrown in !! must sound like heaven on earth to you Chris. What are you waiting for ? Don`t forget your gun though.
Didn't the black ruling classes settle very easily into the seats of their former colonial bosses
with all of south africas natural resources in the hands of the capatilist elite of the world.nothing more can be expected when it comes to human life,that is total disregard.AFTER ALL OLD BOY WE ARENT THE SAVAGES. same theivery and bloodlust, just a different generation of thieves, most of whom are related to the first lot. and we the poor of the world sit back in our vast numbers too comfortable in our armchairs to do anything.we the majority are just as culpable. once again we have been had over by the great money trick.
Its a tragic loss of life however when you go on youtube and watch the full event and other press vids you can clearly see that these striking workers where all armed with a mixture of large knifes / some swords / deadly fighting sticks / spears / machetes and some guns and when you watch the graphic footage of the shooting you can see that the 30 armed strikers where charging at the police this sadly realy only left the police with 2 options stand there and get hacked / clubbed to death or open fire to save there own lifes. So realy all the police did was act in a way anyone would ask your self this if you had a gun maby your alittle scared and all of a sudden 30 armed men start running at you waving there weapons in the air intent on hurting you what would you do? Its hard to place blame here but i would say blaim for the strike is the mines but the blaim for the deaths is the fault of the strikers because the who in there right mind heavily arms themself when all there wanting to do is strike and as they say you dont carry a weapon unless you intend to or are prepared to use it and all it did was change what could have been a peacfull strike into an armed mod with deadly intent.
So, nothing much has changed in South Africa despite majority rule!
Absolutely right David. Wonder if this massacre becomes as notorious as Sharpeville? Somehow I doubt it
Not true. It is a very different place, which is why many people are leaving. This story is very one sided. Which is not a new phenomenon in the media..
Trickyone. I take it from your comment that you believe things are now much worse in SA than they were
Still disgraceful and shocking.
So, why don't they just stop working in their mines? What are they for? Digging platinum for jewellery for all the rich people around the World? Why don't they all just leave and do something else, for themselves instead of whoever the platinum is going to?
I am a Brit that lives in Cape Town, believe me when a mob gets worked up they turn into murderous thugs with no thought for any human life. The crime is out of control here, it's about time the police started mowing them down. Others might stop and think before they turn violent.