News / Africa

    South African Police, Striking Miners Engage in Shootout

    Anita Powell
    JOHANNESBURG — A strike at a South African platinum mine led to a deadly shootout between police and angry workers Thursday.  The number of casualties is still uncertain, but a union official reported up to 20 people may have been killed in the clash.

    Armed and angry strikers gathered at South Africa’s troubled Lonmin platinum mine Thursday after days of unrest, and a confrontation with police soon turned into a gunbattle.

    • An unidentified woman chants as she protests against the police opening fire and killing striking mine workers a day earlier at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
    • Members of a South African police crime unit investigate the scene of the shooting of miners at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
    • An unidentified woman cries as she protests against the police opening fire and killing striking mine workers a day earlier at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
    • A policeman fires at protesting miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
    • Policemen fire at striking miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
    • A miner runs as police shoot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
    • Policemen in teargas and dust open fire on striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 16, 2012.
    • Police open fire on striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 16, 2012.
    • A paramedic (front L) receives help from a policewomen as he tends to the injured after protesting miners were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
    National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said officials were not entirely sure how many people were killed at the mine about 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg - one of the world's most important sources of platinum.

    “At this … moment we don’t have the figures, but it looks like it may be something between 12 and 20 [dead],” Seshoka said.

    A reporter from the South African Press Association said he counted 18 bodies on the ground.

    The company Lonmin PLC, based in London, said some of the strikers were armed.  Union spokesman Seshoka said gunfire from the workers triggered the deadly battle, but he blamed the shooting on "criminals" among them, apparently from a rival union.

    “The strikers fired first, and the police didn’t realize they were in danger, because anyway two police officers have already died in the past week,” Seshoka said.

    Seshoka said the union regrets the violence, but he urged the police to take action only against those who engaged in violence.

    Lonmin is one of the world's largest suppliers of platinum, and almost of its production comes from the mine where the clash occurred.

    Exactly what happened before shooting began is not clear.  Angry protests at the mine have been under way since Friday, when 3,000 workers walked out over a pay dispute.

    South Africa's ruling African National Congress condemned Thursday's violence, and noted that other incidents at the mine since Friday have killed 10 mineworkers.

    The mine's owners say violence may have grown out of a conflict between the National Union of Mineworkers and a rival labor group, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

    The National Union of Mineworkers' Seshoka said workers at the Lonmin mine had been infiltrated by “criminals.”  

    “We are told that in fact they wanted a 200-percent [increase], which is unlike them.  But they were influenced by a group of criminals to hold the country, as well as the mines, to ransom.  This is totally not acceptable,” Seshoka said.

    Attempts to reach the ACMU were unsuccessful.  The rival labor group has been competing with the mineworkers' union for representation rights at many mines.

    Strikes are common in South Africa, which has a strong confederation of unions and a large pool of menial workers.

    Lonmin said it has already lost six days' output from the mine, and will be unable to meet its production goal of 750,000 ounces of platinum this year.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora