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Police fire on Marikana miners, several dead

By REUTERS -John Mkhize | Aug 16, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 21 ]

South African police opened fire on Thursday against thousands of striking miners armed with machetes and sticks at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, leaving several bloodied corpses lying on the ground.

A Reuters cameraman said he saw at least seven bodies after the shooting, which occurred when police laying out barricades of barbed wire were outflanked by some of an estimated 3,000 miners massed on a rocky outcrop near the mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

Police officers said talks with leaders of the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had broken down, leaving no option but to disperse them by force.

"Today is unfortunately D-day," spokesman Dennis Adriao said.

Ten people, including two policemen, have died in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions at the mine, the latest platinum plant to be hit by fallout from an eight-month union turf war in the world's main producer of the precious metal.

On Wednesday, up to 3,000 police officers, including members of an elite, camouflage-wearing riot control unit backed by helicopters and horses, confronted the striking rock-drill operators, but there were no clashes.

Before the police advance, Joseph Mathunjwa, president of AMCU, which has been on a big recruitment push in South Africa's platinum mines, said there would be bloodshed if police moved in.

"We're going nowhere," he shouted through a loudhailer, to cheers from the crowd. "If need be, we're prepared to die here."

SHARES TUMBLE

The unrest has forced Marikana's London-headquartered owner to halt production at all its South African operations, which account for 12 percent of global platinum output.

Lonmin said it had lost the equivalent of 15,000 ounces of platinum from the six-day disruption, and was unlikely to meet its full-year production target of 750,000 ounces.

Its London-listed shares were down more than 6 percent on Thursday, bringing total losses since the violence began to more than 13 percent.

The Marikana strikers have not made their demands explicit, although much of the bad blood stems from a turf war between AMCU and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the dominant union for the last two decades.

At least three people were killed in a similar round of fighting in January that led to a six-week closure of the world's largest platinum mine, run by Impala Platinum. That helped push the platinum price up 15 percent.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world's known platinum reserves, but rising power and labour costs and a sharp drop in the price of the precious metal this year have left many mines struggling to keep their heads above water.

COMMENTS [ 21 ]

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This AMCU union must be held responsible for this bloodshed. There was decison by the courts recently which held unions for any damage to property incurred during their strikes, so surely you can extend the principle to the loss of lives, the leadership of the union must charged.

Aug 16, 2012 5:24 | 0 replies

"It is extremely regrettable. We hope a full investigation will be done and hope the perpetrators will be brought to book."We are saddened and regret this further loss of life which has just happened, bringing roughly the total number of deaths to 30," said general secretary Frans Baleni
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So sad *smh* war-zone

@Solm Aint gonna happen since the cops claim that workers shot at them first

May their souls RIP

Aug 16, 2012 8:25 | 0 replies

Mellow
@Solm Aint gonna happen since the cops claim that workers shot at them first
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What were the cops supposed to do, runaway? What I saw on TV looked like the police defended themselves. You can't arrest someone who is attacking you. You have to defend yourself first then you can arrest when the subject has been neutralized. I heard that yesterday they chopped 2 policemen with axes. There was no way the police were going to take risks with their lives. Maybe too much firing is condemnable, but how much is too much?

Aug 16, 2012 9:16 | 0 replies

Solm
These miners want an increase from R4000 to R12500.I doubt this will happen.
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I also doubt it. It is not practical. More than 100% increase???

Aug 16, 2012 9:18 | 0 replies

@Shredder

Its more than 200%

Aug 16, 2012 10:21 | 0 replies

POLICE SCUM, THEY'RE JUST BARBARIC. ITS SHOOT FIRST, THINK LATER.
Heartless,Cruel,Trigger Happy idiots....... I am disgusted.

Aug 17, 2012 1:13 | 0 replies

Another 'remarkable' day in the history of our country, Sharpeville memories come to mind...only this time the blame sits firmly on the doorstep of another 0ppressor...The glorious ANC and all their criminal cronies!

Congratulations to all those, past and present, that have empowered and fuelled the runaway locomotive of our self-destructive gravy train - South Africa's unions! Brainwashing the poor and desperate with their deceiptful lies of economic freedom and nationalisation, while they sit back in the comfort of tax or trade union subscription sponsored fraudulant lifestyles and repeat the toast - "The leaders will now enjoy the champagne, and of course they do so on your behalf through their lips"

It should now be crystal clear to everyone what the intentions of these criminals are! All those empty promises, institutional corruption and blatant lies - all these things that have enriched the new pirates captaining our ship - are finally coming back to haunt them and us, cutting new deeper scars into the fragile fabric of our long suffering society.

Mark my words...this is just the beginning of the worst period in our history...unless ALL of us can put aside our differences and truly come together for the first time in our bl0odthirsty past - as one nation, to finally emancipate ourselves from this evil that has always plagued us. Let us collectively rid ourselves of this destructive and greedy minority that has always lead us, in one form or another!

Educate those less fortunate, spend a little time uplifting your neighbour but most of all believe in yourself and work hard...for it is us that truly holds the p0wer and only us that can make that change for the better...Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

Aug 17, 2012 2:34 | 0 replies

Those miners were very stubborn and dangerous as well and therefore they left the police with no choice but to defend themselves.Sowetan is not reporting this story fairly like other newspapers.

Aug 17, 2012 4:7 | 0 replies

I also condemn the killings and feeel sorry for the families of the dead,but from the clip that i saw,they guys brought this upon themselves,they already killed 2 policemen and the police were acting on self defence,these guys were3 charging at cops and cops didnt have any alternative but to defend themselves,
When this guys come to the mines,they are given contract with trems and they agree to this but hardly a year into the work,they make rediculous demands,The rock drill opreators are given basic salary and then they are given a drilling bonus as per holes drilled per day and they are given the monthly bonus when the are achieve target given to them.

Aug 17, 2012 6:10 | 0 replies

I think those cops who mawed down people like that with live bullets will have questions to answer.The footage is very graphic.The legality of the police actions need to be assessed.

Aug 16, 2012 7:55 | 0 replies

We call it life, RICH get bail - poor get bullet! no right to refuse working for her majesty the QUEEN EVEN IF YOU CAN WORK 40YRS IN THE MINE YOU REMAIN POOR. Zuma smiling - Lephega next wife on a job well done

Aug 16, 2012 7:38 | 0 replies