News / Africa

South African Mine Shooting Follows Weeks of Tension

Police look on as women carry placards in protest against the killing of miners by the South African police on Thursday, outside a South African mine 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, August 17, 2012.Police look on as women carry placards in protest against the killing of miners by the South African police on Thursday, outside a South African mine 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, August 17, 2012.
x
Police look on as women carry placards in protest against the killing of miners by the South African police on Thursday, outside a South African mine 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, August 17, 2012.
Police look on as women carry placards in protest against the killing of miners by the South African police on Thursday, outside a South African mine 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, August 17, 2012.
William Eagle
 
South African police shot 34 protesting miners this week after weeks of growing tension. Authorities say the police tried to disperse the demonstrators using tear gas and other non-lethal methods and fired only when charged by an armed crowd.
 
The protesters, three thousand striking rock drillers, are pressing for a wage increase.

Lucy Holborn, a research manager at the South Africa Institute of Race Relations in Johannesburg, says tension has been mounting.
 
A week before the shooting, she said, ten people were killed, including two police officers, at the Lonmin mine at Marikana, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Johannesburg.
 
Contributing to the violence, said Holborn, is a turf war between two unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the (dominant) National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). A spokesman for the NUM blamed its rival for the shootings, saying AMCU leaders had urged followers to die defending the hilltop where they were protesting.
 
Holborn said since the days of apartheid, there has been a culture of protest that often includes violence. She said especially common are what she calls “service delivery” protests over the government’s failure to provide adequate clean water, sanitation and electricity.
 
“I think a lot of it may be history, that this has become normal and acceptable in South Africa,” she said. “But I think people are raising questions about whether there has also been a lack of leadership on the part of union leaders in the case of strikes and political leaders generally in condemning violence and calling on their members to desist from violent protests. In the absence of that,orHol there may be a sense that it’s justifiable and it’s acceptable.”
 
Holborn said police behavior is also being criticized.
 
“There was a particular case, for instance, last year where a protestor was shot at close range with rubber bullets and ended up dying. And that raised quite a lot of attention on this issue of how the police handle crowd situations.”
 
But she said there’s also a great deal of concern over the amount of force used in ordinary arrests.
 
“It’s not uncommon to hear of people being shot at in the process of being arrested, although part of that may also result from our criminals being quite heavily armed.”
 
Public attention is focusing in part on police chief Riah Phiyega, who was hired in June after a career in banking.
 
“For some time in South Africa,” said Holborn, “there’s been criticism of this idea of having commissioners who are not from the force itself. And I think today in a press conference she’s taken some degree of responsibility…for the instructions to send in this particular tactical team that then ended up shooting at the crowd.
 
“The concern obviously there is that if she did give orders for this to be the response and it wasn’t just confusion…how does she know what best practice is in policing in this sort of situation without a background in policing herself?”
 
President Jacob Zuma has announced a commission of inquiry to look into the violence, which he said is unacceptable in a constitutional democracy.
 
Holbord some believe those who provoke violence often act with impunity.
 
“There’s a protectorate body here that’s supposed to investigate allegations of police misconduct and it has a very low conviction rate compared to the number of cases referred to it. So I think there’s a concern there that in cases of police brutality or police ill-discipline not enough happens in the end, so it continues unchecked.”
 
The issue is likely to continue to attract attention. Holborn said unions are an important part of the governing coalition. Government policy towards them is expected to be discussed in December when the ruling African National Congress holds a conference to elect the party president.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs