S African mine clash kills 36

Miners were demanding three-fold salary hike

 In one of the deadliest protests since the end of the apartheid era, at least 36 striking South African miners were shot dead by the police at a platinum mine, sending shock waves across the country.

The police in bulletproof vests, some on horseback, fired at a crowd of workers armed with spears, clubs and machetes, with some gunfire also heard from the workers’ camp.
The miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana have been demanding a three-fold salary hike, refusing an order by their union to return to work so that employers could enter into negotiations.

The police said they fired after several unsuccessful attempts to disperse protesters with water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades. Senior police officials showed photographs to prove that the police acted in self-defence.

The incident was roundly condemned by all sectors of society, including all political parties and religious leaders.

The bloodshed prompted President Jacob Zuma to cut short a trip to neighbouring Mozambique for a summit of regional leaders. He is set to visit the troubled North West province where the mine is located.

Zuma said he had instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of the violence to book.
As an uneasy calm descended on the area with loved ones made their way to morgues to identify the dead.
The Azanian People’s Organisation likened the violence in Marikana to the Sharpeville and Soweto shootings of the apartheid era, when the police, acting on the instructions of the white minority government, opened fire on innocent protesters, killing scores of people including young schoolchildren.
In a statement, Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said: “We are treating the developments around police operations... with the utmost seriousness.”

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