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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid