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South Africa Miner Massacre


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Staying strong in their resolve not to disarm, upward of 18 South African miners are reported dead after police opened fire on the striking workers Thursday. Protesters at Lonmin mine, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, have been demanding higher wages and were armed with machetes and clubs. It’s unclear whether police fired first when the two groups collided, but eyewitnesses told the BBC that protesters might have thrown grenades before the police opened fire. Earlier this week another scuffle between police and miners left two officers and one mine worker dead. "We are shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence," said President Jacob Zuma, who asked the labor unions and mines to cooperate with the government to resolve the situation.

It appears that they weren't shot because they were striking but because they were armed to the teeth and lobbed at least 1 grenade at the Police.

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Seems a bit harsh to shoot 18 guys if only 1 of them threw a grenade though, quite a few of the dead were quite possibly just innocent strikers.

I dont know for sure,but I think 1 grenade could cause a lot of harm.I do know that if someone threw a grenade at me I would be really pissed off.

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I've never met a nice South African.

TBF there are loads of very nice and good South African's

It's a violent country in parts and people forget how far it has come from the Apartheid days that were only recently in place. One thing that "westerners" seem to forget when they travel there is that it's not home. What I mean by that is while the infrastructure in many places looks very much like any city in the west economy zone, the reality is that its nothing like that. As a result people judge SA against what happens at home and that is not fair.

That is not excusing this and the views on many SA's is that this is a terrible crime - I listen to John Robbie via the internet and the callers and those that Tweet him are appalled by what has happened.

The country is at a pivotal point when Mandella passes away which in reality will be fairly soon. There are a lot of extremists, often pushed and funded by outsiders that want to claim power there. Hopefully the majority that are good people will rule the day still.

Its a great place to visit can't wait to go back soon for wok / holiday :-)

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Seems a bit harsh to shoot 18 guys if only 1 of them threw a grenade though, quite a few of the dead were quite possibly just innocent strikers.

I dont know for sure,but I think 1 grenade could cause a lot of harm.I do know that if someone threw a grenade at me I would be really pissed off.

Yes I presume you would be pretty pissed off at the guy who threw it but then you wouldn't go and shoot dead 17 other people would you?

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Seems a bit harsh to shoot 18 guys if only 1 of them threw a grenade though, quite a few of the dead were quite possibly just innocent strikers.

I dont know for sure,but I think 1 grenade could cause a lot of harm.I do know that if someone threw a grenade at me I would be really pissed off.

Yes I presume you would be pretty pissed off at the guy who threw it but then you wouldn't go and shoot dead 17 other people would you?

Where are the reports of a grenade being thrown? I don't see any, even in the police statements defending their actions. There is however mention of police use of stun grenades in the period before using live rounds.

The most common account is that police fired because some of the miners "charged", though Aljazeera says the police were driving them into a corral of razor wire, using trucks and water cannon, and some of them tried to escape. This seems to have been met by opening fire.

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I bet there will be a different eye witness account from every person at the scene.

I'm sure. But the film coverage shows police firing automatic weapons, in some cases through clouds of dust. It looks pretty random. If the alJazz report is accurate and the miners were trying to avoid being kettled, you'd have to think the police might have thought they would try to run, and to have prepared a response other than mass slaughter.

An inquiry might find out more. Or maybe ask for the US satellite footage - I expect they have the whole thing recorded.

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Strange that we haven't heard the name of the mining company, unless I've missed it. I'd like to know what the relationship is between the company brass and the police from that area....I'm guessing it's slightly closer than professional.

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Strange that we haven't heard the name of the mining company, unless I've missed it. I'd like to know what the relationship is between the company brass and the police from that area....I'm guessing it's slightly closer than professional.

The mining company is called Lonmin. There is a bit of analysis from the BBC below. It seems it is more about the workers threatening to leave Zuma's preferred union to join a rival.

This strike was sparked by a demand for better wages. And - armed with spears and machetes - strikers were in no mood for compromise.

But it goes much deeper than that. The traditional union in the area, the NUM, is a key ally of the African National Congress. Their backing is critical for President Jacob Zuma in his fight to retain his position in the ANC's party elections this December.

Miners accuse their leaders of abandoning their grassroots concerns, focussing instead on politics. So they turned to an alternative union to fight their corner. But - as so often happens in South Africa - this dispute turned violent. Two police had been killed earlier in the week.

The 3,000 police who surrounded the hilltop on which a similar number of miners had gathered were determined not to join their dead comrades. It is in the culture of the force. As one former police commissioner said, they should "shoot to kill" without worrying about what happened after that.

South African commentators are comparing this tragedy to Sharpeville - when the police fired at a crowd in 1960 - leading to the start of the armed struggle against white minority rule. This comparison seems a step too far. But the country is facing the bleakest moment since the end of apartheid.

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