Government Report Blames South African Police in Killing of 34 Striking Miners

Police examining the bodies of striking miners after opening fire on a crowd at a platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa in August 2012. A new report issued Thursday found the police, along with unions and the mining company, culpable in the killing of 34 miners. (Credit: Associated Press)
Police examining the bodies of striking miners after opening fire on a crowd at a platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa in August 2012. A new report issued Thursday found the police, along with unions and the mining company, culpable in the killing of 34 miners. (Credit: Associated Press)

The failure of South Africa’s national police force to control its officers or come up with a plan to handle a surge of angry protesters led to the killing of 34 striking miners three years ago, according to a report issued Thursday evening by the government.

The killing of the workers at a platinum mine in the Marikana area, near Rustenburg in the North West Province, was the worst case of police violence since the end of apartheid in 1994, a pivotal moment that cemented public frustration with the government and the problem of income inequality in South Africa.

For many South Africans, the episode showed that instead of representing the poor and downtrodden, as it has always claimed to do, the governing African National Congress was actively suppressing workers and siding with business interests.

The report, released after an address to the nation by President Jacob G. Zuma, exonerated senior members of the government in the deaths. Instead, it blamed the mining company, Lonmin, and the unions for conduct that contributed to the killings.

A panel of judges appointed by Mr. Zuma soon after the killings delivered the findings of its nearly three-year inquiry to the president in March. But Mr. Zuma delayed the release of the report, saying he needed time to consider its recommendations.

SOURCE: NORIMITSU ONISHI
The New York Times

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