South African workers armed with traditional weapons are in a dispute over union representation and salaries. Police opened fire on strikers resulting in over 30 reported deaths., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Liveblog on Lonmin Shootings
Mail & Guardian set up a liveblog as shootings have left several dead at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine late on Thursday afternoon.
Mine workers have been striking since Friday in an increasingly violent situation that saw 10 people killed, including two police officers and security guards. Several mine workers were shot dead by police on Thursday, following a shootout between police and miners.
“I did spend some time talking to two guys who work for Lonmin. They say the fighting is certainly between the two unions – apparently the guys from the ‘old’ union weren’t re-elected etc.”
Our multimedia editor Lauren Clifford-Holmes spent the night at Lonmin: “We went to the mine’s hospital last night and were kicked out of there pretty quickly as patients were still being treated. We went back after midnight and the place was totally deserted – or the emergency area certainly was – we surmise that patients were stabilised and transferred.”
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday more than 30 miners were shot dead by the police. ”Police did everything they could… but people [miners] said they were not leaving and are prepared to fight,” he said in an interview with Talk Radio 702.
No violence was reported at Lonmin mine overnight, according to police this morning.
“Police have been patrolling the area, but the situation remained quiet after the shooting,” said Captain Dennis Adriao.
Violence has become the modus operandi of such strikes in South Africa and Lonmin is no exception, writes Kwanele Sosibo in today’s Mail & Guardian.
Captain Dennis Adriao said the police had no choice but to use force. ”The South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms,” said Adriao. ”The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self-defence, were forced to engage the group with force.” – Sapa
Sapa reports that 25 people were killed in the shootout on Thursday, according to the North West health department. “The death toll is standing on 25,” provincial health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said. That brings the total number of people killed at the mine in the past week to 35, including the 10 people who were killed during protests that started last Friday.
Good morning. The Mail & Guardian is heading back to Marikana. Stay tuned throughout the day for more updates.
President Jacob Zuma has condemned the violence at Lonmin, saying he was “alarmed and deeply saddened”.
President Jacob Zuma is alarmed and deeply saddened at the manner in which a dispute at the industrial level at the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg has degenerated in this manner leading to tragic loss of lives of so many people.
“We are shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence. We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence. We call upon the labour movement and business to work with government to arrest the situation before it deteriorates any further. I have instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of violence to book. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of all who have lost their lives since the beginning of this violent action,” said President Zuma.
The ANC and DA have called for an investigation into the shootout.
The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu said: ”All of us feel very saddened by the violence we have seen on television. We are requesting that our government hold an inquiry on what happened today so that all of us South Africans can come to a conclusion on who is responsible.”
“We call on union leaders, the police and everyone else involved to immediately work towards a de-escalation of the conflict,” the DA said in a statement. ”All action must be taken to avoid further bloodshed.”
Phillip de Wet is tweeting from a hospital near Lonmin:
We’re at the hospital closest to #Lonmin. Gunshot victims being treated. Many wounded, though no hard numbers yet.
At least one man has been airlifted from#Lonmin. Medics taking strain, but say they’re on top of it.
Saw men with gunshot wounds to the leg. Defensive fire? We just don’t know yet. #Lonmin
While it remains unclear where the shootout started, in this Reuters video gunshots can be heard from both sides, with the police shouting “Cease fire or we shoot”.
M&G reporter Phillip de Wet is on his way to the scene:
@PhillipdeWet: We’re seeing blue lights heading the same direction we are: #Lonmin. Likely police reinforcements from Pretoria.
Cosatu has condemned the violence at Lonmin on Twitter:
@COSATU TODAY COSATU condemns the violence at Lonmin and also the break-away Union NATAWU
@COSATU TODAY The Federation is appalled by the recent violence at Lonmin which has claimed 18 lives according to Sapa reports& we extend our condolences!
@COSATU TODAY COSATU CEC has pledged its support to NUM to resolve the impasse and further calls for calmness amongst the members.
The SABC are reporting that 12 people have been killed but authorities have refused to confirm the number of dead.
Financial Mail interview NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka about the reasons for the violence. He says they are still investigating but it’s not a battle between NUM and Amcu.
While police and miners are exchanging live fire and Lonmin mine descends into chaos, the head of our police watchdog has just announced his resignation. Talk about timing.
FRANCOIS BEUKMAN RESIGNS AS HEAD OF INDEPENDENT POLICE INVESTIGATIVE DIRECTORATE (IPID)
PRETORIA – 16 August 2012. The Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Mr. Francois Beukman has tendered his resignation to pursue other interests. He is currently serving notice and will officially relinquish his position on 31 August 2012. Mr. Beukman was appointed in August 2009 and his contract was due come to an end in August 2014.
The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa has accepted his resignation and further thanked Mr. Beukman for his valuable commitment and service during his tenure as head of IPID. The Minister wishes him well for his future career endeavours.
Ms Koekie Mbeki, Chief Director Legal Services at IPID will be Acting Executive Director of the IPID from 1 September 2012, until a permanent head is appointed.
Issued by the Ministry of Police.
Miners protest outside Lonmin mines, August 15 2012. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)
Images from the mine taken yesterday by M&G photographer Oupa Nkosi.
Another twist to the story:
Lonmin CEO Ian Farmer has been diagnosed with a serious illness and admitted to hospital, the platinum group said on Thursday.The development came as the company’s Marikana operations have been bought to a virtual standstill in the wake of labour-related violence that has so far claimed the lives of several people.
Lonmin said there was no connection between the unrest and Farmer’s health.
“If police officers’ lives are under threat, they are fully within their rights to use deadly force to protect themselves or people in close proximity to them. Although the Criminal Procedure Act is currently under review in Parliament, this is what the law states at this point in time,” Dr Johan Burger, researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Crime and Justice programme.
Various media reports allege police were fired upon by striking Lonmin workers.Although it is unclear who opened fire first, section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act dictates the SAPS are entitled to use excessive force when their lives, or those in their immediate vicinity, are being threatened.
Interesting point by Ferial Haffajee, City Press editor:
@ferialhaffajee: And there comes the police commissioner’s first big challenge.#Lonmin.
Our reporter Nickolaus Bauer has tried to get a statement from our new police commissioner Riah Phiyega, but she declined commenting, saying the police were trying to establish what was happening. Remember, this is the former Absa executive who replaced Bheki Cele. She has been lauded in previous roles and there are high hopes in her leadership. Read our story about her here.
“We are legally entitled to operate at this mine and other mines in the area. Num is a machinery of propaganda and are lying if they say we aren’t allowed to be there,” AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said.
In response AMCU has slammed NUM’s assertions, saying they had every right to be at Lonmin and were undertaking legitimate industrial action.
“There are criminals inciting violence at Lonmin mine. They have no right to be there and the police had to take control of the situation,” Seshoka said.
NUM spokesperson Lesib Seshoka said that while the union condemns the violence, it is pleased the police have dealt with criminal elements provoking violent behaviour at the mine.
Interesting tweet from constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos:
@pierredevos: Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath criticised Lonmin in 1973 as “an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism”.
Cosatu has just tweeted this:
@COSATU TODAY: NUM appeals to all workers to go back to work and for the law enforcement agencies to crack down the culprits of the violence
The strikers are thought to have broken off with Cosatu-affiliated union NUM, and are largely operating on their own, though AMCU (Association of mineworkers and Construction Union), a NUM splinter, has been involved.
South Africans are glued to their screens as disturbing scenes are being broadcast on eNews right now of the shooting at Lonmin mines, where several miners are believed to have been shot in the last hour.
This just in:
An attempt by the police to disperse striking workers at Marikana’s troubled Lonmin mine has ended in a shootout between the two groups.
A Sapa reporter at the scene said he counted 18 bodies lying next to the nearby Wonderkop squatter camp. The shooting lasted about three minutes.
Police had tried to intercept a section of the strikers gathered on top of a hill.