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Massacre tarnishes police image

Rustenburg -The shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine has affected the image of the police, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu said on Friday.

“It also has destabilised the families of all those killed, including the two killed police officers, especially their unemployed dependants,” Sotyu said in a statement.

Police surround the bodies of striking miners after opening fire on a crowd at the Lonmin platinum mine near Rustenburg. Photo: AP. Credit: AP

“There are laws regulating protests and labour disputes, therefore, every person including the police... is urged to respect the Constitution and laws.”

Sotyu joined Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega at the Marikana mine on Friday.

She sent her condolences to the families of those who had died.

A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the Lonmin mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.

More than 78 people were injured.

Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over recognition agreements at the mine.

Workers also wanted higher wages.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Friday sent condolences to its ally NUM and the families of those killed.

“We are of the firm view that there are other ways of dealing with the Lonmin mine crisis without the use of automatic machine guns... (which) has been used against workers armed only with spears and knobkerries,” spokesman Castro Ngobese said in a statement.

“The barrel of a gun cannot supersede a platform for collective engagements.”

Numsa joined the call for an urgent investigation into what had happened at the mine.

“If we are not careful, we might slide into a police state wherein the men and women in blue uniforms are recklessly used to bring an end to all forms of protest under the pretext of maintaining law and order,” Ngobese said.

The trade union called on Lonmin management to “apply cool heads” and open negotiations with the workers in order to avert further violence.

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) said it condemned the role of employers who tried to spread hatred among the workers.

“We are on the side of the SACP (SA Communist Party) and NUM and we express our solidarity with their efforts to defend the real rights of workers and the freedom of trade union action,” WFTU said in a statement.

“The WFTU expresses its deepest condolences to the families of all victims at the outrageous conflict in Lonmin mine in South Africa.” - Sapa

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