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‘181 strike deaths in 13 years’

A total of 181 people have been killed in strike violence in the past 13 years, according to figures compiled by the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).

“The greatest number of fatalities occurred in 1999, 2006, and 2012 with 30, 69 and 60 deaths respectively,” the SAIRR said in a statement on Monday.

The deaths in 1999 were high because of a dispute between the National Union of Mineworkers, the United Workers' Union of SA and the United Democratic Movement.

In 2006, a security guard strike between March and May accounted for a high number of deaths. Non-striking guards and on-duty guards were attacked and some were thrown off moving trains, the SAIRR said.

The deaths in 2012 were a result of strikes in the mining sector. The worst was the August 16 shooting at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana in the North West where 34 miners were killed.

The SAIRR said the figures were compiled using print media reports.

From January 1999 to October 2012 about 313 people had been injured during strikes and more than 3058 arrested.

Boitumelo Sethlatswe, a SAIRR researcher said: “Although the figures may not be exhaustive they indicate how strike action in South Africa is often characterised by violence.

“Fatalities were most often the result of clashes between police and strikers, between striking and non-striking workers, and between rival unions.” - Sapa

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