Marikana: NUM: Rival union 'may have planned' mine violence

Friday 17 August 2012 — The Morning Star

South Africa‘s police force admitted today that its officers had killed more than 34 miners at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine on Thursday.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) secretary general Frans Baleni put the toll at 36 and blamed the unrest on the rival Association of Mineworkers and Communication Union making promises which could never be delivered and, in the process, organising an illegal action which led to the loss of lives.

Mr Baleni said his union was “never involved” in the violence and that the law should take its course should any NUM members be found to have been involved.

He pointed out that the man found dead on Tuesday was a National Union of Mineworkers shop steward. Of the 10 people killed before Thursday’s massacre, three of them had been NUM members.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it believed the violence was planned.

“The violence that people are seeing today has been going on since January,” said general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said that 234 people had been arrested and an investigation was under way.

But political parties and trade unions, including the ANC, called for an independent inquiry.

Shocked South Africans had seen the massacre live on television after police failed to get the striking miners to hand over machetes, clubs and home-made spears.

Some miners did leave, though others carrying weapons began marching toward the township near the mine.

Suddenly, a group of miners rushed a line of police officers who responded with shot

It remains unclear what sparked the miners’ fatal charge at police.

A police ministry spokesman noted that the miners shot at police as well, using weapons they stole from two policemen they beat to death on Monday.

President Jacob Zuma said he was “shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence.

“We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence,” he said.

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