Death toll may rise to 38: SAPS mine-shooting
16 August 2012 1 Comment
Week-long SA platinum mine riots forced Lonmin London-headquartered owner to halt production at all its South African operations — which account for 12 percent of global platinum output…
Aug 16 2012 – South African cops fired with live ammo on 3,000 machete-armed, striking mineworkers at Lonmin Marikana platinum mine: injuring ‘many.” Afterwards, police recovered a gun which had been stolen from a killed police-officer from amongst the bodies on the ground. The latest estimates: 18 dead — but death toll could rise to 38 or even higher — including the extremely cruel murders by these mineworkers this past week: including two cops, two security officers torched to death inside their vehicles; at least one suspected ‘ritual’ murder of ‘a man dressed in khaki’ and mineworkers found injured and killed in a mineshaft.
August 16 2012 –
“Marikana: Bodies seen on the ground August 16 2012”
at 10:45pm By John Mkhize/ Also:
Reuters: “ Lonmin’s Phillimore regrets deaths Marikana” –
Mkhize: “South African police opened fire on striking miners armed with machetes and sticks at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine on Thursday, killing at least a dozen men “in scenes that evoked comparisons with apartheid-era brutality.” (Reports Reuters).
Above: In the past week, the striking mineworkers killed 10 people – two security officers were torched to death inside their cars, two police officers were shot, one man (above) was found the apparent victim of a ‘ritual killing’ near a group of striking miners on Tuesday. Police had found an animal’s skull placed on top of his chest near the mineworkers after they had just undergone a ritual by a traditional healer. The remainder of the victims were miners found badly injured or shot to death; two also with their throats cut – at the mine during the week-long ‘standoff’ between the SAPS and the miners at Marikana.
Mkhize: ‘ Today, the SAPS had gathered in large numbers after negotiations with the striking miners broke down.
In the incident, filmed by Reuters television, officers opened up with automatic weapons on a group of men who emerged from behind a vehicle and started loping towards police lines.The volley of bullets threw up clouds of dust, which cleared to reveal bodies lying on the ground.
President Jacob Zuma said he was “shocked and dismayed” at what appeared to be one of the bloodiest police operations since the end of white-minority rule in 1994 in Africa’s biggest economy.“I have instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of violence to book,” he said in a statement.
Overall death toll could be as high as 38: Democratic Alliance
Police have refused to confirm any death toll from the operation to disperse 3,000 protesting drill operators who had massed on a rocky outcrop near the mine, 100km north-west of Johannesburg. A Reuters photograph showed a dozen corpses lying on patch of sandy ground, while a spokesperson from the opposition Democratic Alliance said the overall toll could be as high as 38. The Sapa news agency said one of its reporters had counted 18 bodies.
World platinum prices leapt as much as $30 an ounce – more than two percent – to a six-day high as the extent of the violence became apparent in the country with 80 percent of world’s known reserves.
Leaders of the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which was representing most of the strikers, accused police of a massacre. “There was no need whatsoever for these people to be killed like that,” General Secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele told Reuters. Some commentators likened the scenes to “apartheid-era footage of ranks of police opening fire on crowds of protesters in black townships: “: “I cannot think of a confrontation between protesters and police since 1994 that has taken place along these lines,” said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.
Talks had broken down: ten people had already been killed by the miners by Tuesday:
Before the start of the operation by hundreds of police, officials said several days of talks with AMCU leaders had broken down, leaving no option but to use force to break the crowd, which had triggered the closure of the mine.“Today is unfortunately D-day,” police spokesperson Dennis Adriao said.
Prior to Thursday, 10 people – including two policemen – had died in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions at the mine, the latest platinum plant to be hit by an eight-month union turf war in the world’s main producer of the precious metal.
The Marikana strikers have not made their demands explicit, although much of the bad blood stems from AMCU’s challenge to the two-decade dominance of the National Union of Mineworkers, a close ally of Zuma’s ruling African National Congress.
Threatby union leader: ”There will be bloodshed if police moved in’
Before the police advance, AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa, whose organisation 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 loud-hailer, to cheers from the crowd. “If need be, we’re prepared to die here.”
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 shares fell to a fur-year low, losing 6.7 percent in London and 7.3 percent in Johannesburg. In all, they have shed more than 13 percent since the unrest started at the
weekend.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 nearby by Impala Platinum . That helped push the platinum price up 15 percent.Despite South Africa’s dominance of the platinum sector, 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. – Reuters