Lonmin violence is tragic, says President
President Jacob Zuma was alarmed and deeply saddened at the way the dispute at Lonmin’s mine in Marikana in the North West had degenerated to the tragic loss of so many lives, the presidency said in a statement
“We are shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence. We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence,” Zuma said.
“We call upon the labour movement and business to work with government to arrest the situation before it deteriorates any further.”
Zuma said he had instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of violence to book.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of all who have lost their lives since the beginning of this violent action.”
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s office said in a statement on Thursday that police at the mine did their best in a volatile situation.
“The Minister [Mthetwa] is now considering requesting the President to institute a full inquiry into this whole situation, not just around what happened today but holistically at this situation,” said spokesman Zweli Mnisi.
“Now what should police do in such situations when clearly what they are faced with are armed and hardcore criminals who murder police?”
A shoot-out between police and strikers at the mine left at least 18 people dead or wounded on Thursday.
Mnisi said police initially tried to peacefully disperse the crowd, to the point of even using water cannons and teargas, but this did not help.
Such efforts were countered with the murder of police officers, he said.
“We had a situation where people who were armed to the teeth, attacked and killed others even police officers and, for the record, one of the firearms used was that of our deceased police officer.”
The behaviour of those who were involved in such criminal activity was condemned, with it disguised under the banner of a right to illegally protest, accompanied by violence.
Mnisi called for restraint and that if demands needed to be raised with whoever, that it be done within the framework and respect for the Constitution.
The ministry offered their condolences to the families of the deceased and a speedy recovery to the injured.
“What happened today at Lonmin is something that was unfortunate and should not have happened in post democracy South Africa because to protest is a legal and constitutional right of any citizen.”
However, such rights did not imply people should be barbaric, intimidatory and hold illegal gatherings, said Mnisi.
- President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, to lead a South African delegation to an SADC regional meeting, the international relations department said on Thursday.
“The SADC Summit is a statutory meeting of the 15-nation regional body which convenes annually in August. The meeting considers matters from different sectors for decision and for noting,” the department said in a statement.
“The Summit also examines the performance of SADC institutions and reviews the overall implementation of the regional body’s socio-economic programmes.”
This would be the first time the heads of state and government within SADC had met since the election of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the chairwoman of the African Union commission.
“At the Summit, South Africa is expected to report on its Chairpersonship of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the challenges ahead,” the department said.
The summit begins on Friday.