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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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 Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid