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Police open fire on striking Lonmin miners killing at least 18 [video]
Posted by on Aug 17th, 2012

The week long stand-off between workers and police at Lonmin in Marikana, one of the world’s biggest platinum mines, came to a deadly end yesterday after police opened fire on thousands of striking miners with unconfirmed reports saying that at least 18 were killed. Police had initially used non-lethal methods of dispersing the crowd and switched to live ammunition after one of the workers was allegedly seen pulling out a shotgun and firing at them.

Here’s video footage from the police side showing how the shooting started. The video does not show any of the miners being shot up until the end (1.23 mark) where it graphically shows them being mowed down. Don’t go past that point if you’re a sensitive viewer.

Ok so i wasn’t gonna say anything until all the facts were revealed, but just on that footage alone it’s hard for me to see how people are saying that the police were boxed in and acted in defence because their lives were in danger. You can’t tell who fired first, but for damn sure the overwhelming majority of gun fire came from the police side.

No doubt this will be talked about for a long time to come and i’m not gonna get into a whole debate over it. I’m just gonna say that if you had to ask for my opinion based on that footage…i’m gonna say that it was totally unneccessary and brought back memories of the old SA.

We are better than this..there has to be an alternative way to opening fire on a crowd with semi-automic rifles.


Sad day indeed.

“The extremely tense week-long stand-off between police and striking workers at the mine in North West ended in just over two minutes of bloodshed when the police opened fire with semi-automatic assault rifles and pistols just before 3pm yesterday.

After the police operation, which lasted for about 15 minutes, at least 18 striking workers lay dead or wounded, covered in blood and dust, in the open veld near the notorious Marikana Hill.

Ten other people, including two policemen, have been killed in violence at the mine since the weekend. [Times LIVE]

The police have stated “what were we supposed to do”?

What do think?

LJG says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

The question is, would you have do the same? If you saw a group of people running towards you, and earlier in the week they killed 2 of your colleagues, and they have been shooting at you?

The police were given the right to return fire with live ammunition last year already, and then a group of people are dumb enough to shoot at police and kill 2 officers? What did they expect would happen?

Savage says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

This is why im not a police officer! The question for me lies with exactly what you said though.. ‘people running towards you”. Who in the right mind is gonna ‘charge’ toward a wall of police armed with assault rifles? Police are not mandated to return fire. The cops advanced and assuming they did indeed see a miner with a shotgun..does that justify the reaction? And please dont tell me that because 2 policeman were killed earlier in the week its reason enough.

Savage says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

Agreed..the circumstances need to be evaluated properly and its definitely not an easy position to be in. police are required to make a decision as to how to apply force but who started shooting first is not the point here. A police force should never ever be provoked into firing into a crowd

beanbagboy says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

Were the miners dumb, or just frustrated and desperate? And should we be justifying the police’s reaction because of “weeks of stress and tension”?
Are our police not debriefed? Are they receiving the correct psychological attention? Why was live ammunition used?

We need to stop excusing people’s actions and start asking the right questions. This could possibly blow up and if our police can’t even handle a bunch of miners striking, we could end up with more than just miners being shot.

August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

If i wer a cop i was not going to shoot at those miners with live ammunition..i was shoot hard with rubber bulets so that they can back off..No one hard to die..Every body deserve to live and fight for wath they thibk is theirs.It was not fair how those people..yhose fathers .those husbands and sons hard to die…its just not fair

Johan Odendaal says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

I imagine that the weeks of stress and tension we have not seen in this short clip may have had something to do with their reaction. It is always sad to see a human life taken, but as much as my sentiments go to the protestors I have just as much sympathy for the police who were simply doing their job and keeping the peace. If protesters have made it clear that they are not peaceful, by bringing guns to a strike and you charge at police the reaction does not suprise me at all. The reaction may appear to have been too strong but I don’t think it was unwarrented. The police were simply protecting themselves from a threat, they had no idea to judge how threatening it was so they had to neutralise it. I think they are just doing the best they can under the curcumstances and all those who care to comment should try being in their shoes. in an highly dangerous enviroment like thtat one before passing judgement.

Rowan says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

Well done to the Police. If you threaten the police and act violently towards them what do you think is going to happen if you run at them??

Kim says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

I don’t think you’re going to like what I’ve got to say, but I think the police were justified to defend themselves. I haven’t watched the video and don’t want to, and I am just going on your article. While I agree with you Savage about this being reminiscent of the old days, but what gives the strikers the idea that violence is the answer and makes it ok to solve their problems?It’s not! I don’t go on strike at work when I don’t get my way, and I’m underpaid, etc (and trust me, this happens a lot more than people realise), I find alternative solutions. If I tried this strike stuff at any of my current or previous jobs I would have been fired. The Police have a duty not only to protect us, but these strikers too from putting themselves in harms way, which sadly they failed in with the strikers, but succeeded in with the community.

I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I just had to vent.

Savage says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

Definitely agree with you Kim, but given the history of SA it’s a tad more complicated than ‘you strike, you’re fired’. In any case the issue here for me is not about the reason for the strike but rather the police decision to open fire. Police should never be provoked into shooting into a crowd. There is no way they were overwhelmed or boxed in and had no choice.

August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

As I’ve mentioned about this on twitter …
It’s DISGUSTING …a DEBACLE OF NOTE… that #Lonmin owner should be bitter – this is an EMBARRASSMENT for its brand !

Police didn’t have to use live ammunition in the guns.
Yes, I understand that the miners had dangerous weapons (none of them had guns, none of them had hand-grenades).
Police could have used tear-gas, rubber-bullets …Water-canons…

People didn’t have to be killed…

And No, I don’t support either miners or the police on this – I just sense the loss of life was pointless !

Kim says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

Thank you for being so reasonable and discussing this calmly with me. That’s why one of the reasons why I like your blog. Even if your opinion is different to mine, we can still talk about it like adults. Legend!

Mo says:
August 08, 2012 at 7:14 am

I’m sorry but some of you comment with lack of knowledge, blissful ignorance. How do you say the miners had no guns? Did you see the videos? Did you see how close they were at the police? Did you not see the police run away an hide? Have you used rubber an non lithal ammunition before? What are you doing protesting with phangas an swords, an guns? Did you see how the security guards were murderd an why? I won’t even talk about the police, you don’t think they’re people. But next time we should send unarmmed peace talkers to manage dat same crowd. I think it will be less sad.

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