Monday, December 24, 2012

South African Miners Strike

So the authorities opened fire????!!!! 

"S. Africa death toll at 34; Striking miners vow to fight on" by Thomas Phakaneand Michelle Faul  |  Associated Press, August 18, 2012

MARIKANA, South Africa — Frantic wives searched for missing loved ones, President Jacob Zuma rushed home from a summit, and some miners vowed a fight to the death Friday as police announced a shocking casualty toll from the previous day’s shooting by officers of striking platinum miners: 34 dead and 78 wounded.

Wives of miners at the Lonmin platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg took the place of dead and wounded husbands Friday in staging a protest. Rather than asking higher wages as the miners had done, the women demanded to know why police had opened fire Thursday with automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns on the strikers, many of whom had been armed with spears, machetes, and clubs.

I am flabbergasted at their courage and bravery in the face of such grief, and let me remind you that not everything is as it appears. 

‘‘Police stop shooting our husbands and sons,’’ read a banner the women held. They kneeled before shotgun-toting police and sang a protest song, saying ‘‘What have we done?’’ in the Xhosa language.

Police insisted that they acted in self-defense, saying the strikers had possessed a pistol taken from a police officer they had beaten to death Monday.

I suppose it is the same in every country because we have plenty of that kind of crap here every day. Cops kill someone, claim it was self-defense, etc, etc, exonerated after "investigation."

National police Chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega told a news conference that Thursday was a sad day for South Africa and that it was not a time for pointing fingers, but many people were comparing the shootings to apartheid-era state violence; political parties and labor unions demanded an investigation.

And THAT is the MOST DISAPPOINTING THING! Not to hold the South Africans to a higher standard; however, one expect more of an example in better government after they have been through so much. Same of Israel after their story. 

Zuma returned home from a summit in Mozambique and announced an official inquiry into the killings, which he called shocking and tragic....

Well, you could push gun control like what is happening over here -- except over there it looks like only the government goons had the guns. Gotta be a lesson in there for you, America.

Makhosi Mbongane, a 32-year-old winch operator, said mine managers should have come to the striking workers rather than send police.

Tells you who is $till calling the $hots, if you know what I mean.

Strikers were demanding monthly salary increases from $625 to $1,563. Mbongane vowed that he was not going back to work and would not allow anyone else to do so either.

‘‘They can beat us, kill us, and kick and trample on us with their feet, do whatever they want to do, we aren’t going to go back to work,’’ he said. ‘‘If they employ other people they won’t be able to work either. We will stay here and kill them.’’

Well, when it comes to kill or be killed.... that is the definition of self-defense, isn't it?

Myriad problems are facing South Africa 18 years after white racist rule ended, including growing inequality between a white minority joined by a small black elite while most blacks endure high unemployment and inadequate housing, health care, and education.


Of course, what would you expect of a corporate and money media?

The shootings ‘‘awaken us to the reality of the time bomb that has stopped ticking — it has exploded,’’ The Sowetan newspaper said in a front-page editorial Friday. ‘‘Africans are pitted against each other . . . . They are fighting for a bigger slice of the mineral wealth of the country.’’

The youth wing of the ruling African National Congress party argues that nationalization of the nation’s mines and farms is the only way to redress the evils of the apartheid past.

Hey, they do it for banks. 


Of course, the two sides will start talking, right? 

"S. African miners ordered to work" Associated Press, August 20, 2012

MARIKANA, South Africa — Miners must return to work Monday or face being fired from the platinum mine where rivalry between unions exploded into violence that led to the deaths of 44 people in a week, Lonmin PLC said Sunday. 

Is that how it happened? And who likes being ordered to do anything in that situation?

Thirty-four were gunned down by police in one of the worst displays of state violence since apartheid ended in 1994.

It must have been a police union, huh?

President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning starting Monday to commemorate the lives of all South Africans who have died violently, especially the 44 at Marikana mine.

That would appear to indicate some guilt, no?

‘‘The nation is in shock and pain,’’ Zuma said in a statement. ‘‘We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life. . . . We must avoid finger-pointing and recrimination. We must unite against violence from whatever quarter.’’

Wow. I guess there is violence and killing, and then there is violence and killing. 

Hundreds of rock-drill operators have been leading an illegal strike among the mine’s 28,000-strong labor force. Threats of violence kept many more away....

Those rotten unions!

Last year after a similar dispute over labor representation stopped work at its nearby Karee mine, Lonmin fired all 9,000 workers. Then it asked them to reapply for their jobs and most were rehired....

Weeding out all the "troublemakers?"


At least there is going to a cover-up, 'er, official investigation:

"S. African police to investigate killings of striking miners" Associated Press, August 28, 2012

And the fox will look into the henhouse. 

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s police are investigating each of the 34 killings of striking mine workers and are also looking into allegations that more than 150 arrested miners have been beaten in police custody, the spokesman for the police directorate of complaints said Monday.

Sadly, it must seem like old times. 

The spokesman said more than 150 arrested miners have asserted that they were beaten to get them to implicate their colleagues in the killings of two police officers.

It's called torture. 

The news came as President Jacob Zuma was questioned by the African National Congress national executive committee over police shootings that wounded another 78 strikers at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine on Aug. 16.

In the fallout from the killings, the mine strike has strengthened. Only 13 percent of workers reported for duty Monday — down from 30 percent Friday and 50 percent Saturday.

I do have to say one thing for governments and rulers: they never cease to amaze me with the backfires.


So does this

"S. African miners, not police, charged with murder" New York Times, August 31, 2012

Are you flipping kidding?

LUANDA, Angola — Two weeks after police opened fire on a crowd of 3,000 workers engaged in a wildcat strike at a platinum mine near Johannesburg, killing 34 people in the bloodiest labor unrest since the end of apartheid, prosecutors are bringing murder charges against a surprising set of suspects: the miners themselves.

Using an obscure legal doctrine frequently relied upon by the apartheid government in its dying days, prosecutors did not accuse the police officers who shot and killed the strikers as they surged forward, machetes in hand.

Instead, officials said Thursday that they were pursuing murder charges against the 270 miners who were arrested after the dust settled and the shooting stopped.

This must seem Orwellian to South Africans. 

It was the latest astonishing turn in a saga that has gripped South Africa, unleashing a torrent of rage over deepening inequality, poverty, and unemployment.

The shootings have fed a growing sense of betrayal at the country’s governing party, the venerable African National Congress, many of whose senior members have joined a wealthy elite a world away from the downtrodden masses whose votes brought them to power at the end of apartheid in 1994. Now the prosecutors’ decision to charge the miners in the killings threatened to intensify that rift.

Frank Lesenyego, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, cited ‘‘34 counts of murder that have been laid against the 270 accused,’’ in connection with the killings of 34 miners on Aug. 16. He said they were being charged under a law known as ‘‘common purpose,’’ in which members of a crowd when a crime is committed can be prosecuted as accomplices.

It was unclear whether the charges were simply a legal maneuver to keep the miners, who have been in jail for two weeks, under lock and key, or if prosecutors were intent on pursuing the murder charge in court.

Otherwise they might talk. 

‘‘The charge is spurious,’’ said Pierre de Vos, a legal scholar at the University of Cape Town. ‘‘It will not fly. No court in South Africa on any set of facts will find the miners guilty through the common-purpose doctrine.’’


Related: S. Africa panel to review miners’ killings

"South Africa to withdraw murder charges against miners" by BY MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press /  September 3, 2012

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s top prosecutor announced Sunday that she is withdrawing controversial murder charges against 270 miners for the killings of 34 striking co-workers shot dead by police.

The National Union of Metal Workers meanwhile demanded the suspension of the officers responsible for the shootings.

Sunday’s announcement follows a barrage of criticism from political parties, trade unions, civil society and legal experts.

Even the justice minister had challenged the prosecutor’s decision to charge the arrested miners under an apartheid-era law that opened President Jacob Zuma’s government to accusations that it was acting like the former brutal white rulers....

We have a saying: if the shoe fits.


"Striking miners in South Africa threatened to kill workers and managers in a nearby mine Wednesday unless they joined the work stoppage."


"Workers balk at S. African mine deal; Main unions endorse accord" by Michelle Faul  |  Associated Press, September 07, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — The company that runs a platinum mine where South African police killed 34 striking workers signed a peace deal Thursday with the main labor unions, but a breakaway union and the strikers themselves refused to sign.

That creates gloomy prospects for an accord that is supposed to open the way for wage negotiations to end a monthlong strike. Suspicion and anger poison the atmosphere. On Wednesday, strikers threatened to kill workers and managers who ignore their strike.

Strikers who have stopped work at the Marikana mine say they are interested only in London-registered Lonmin PLC meeting a demand for a minimum monthly wage of $1,560.

Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said all was quiet Thursday at the Karee mineshaft, where 2,000 strikers and supporters on Wednesday threatened to kill those who do not join the monthlong stoppage at the nearby Marikana mine. The Karee mine, responsible for 68 percent of production at Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, is now also not producing platinum....

On Aug. 16, police who had vowed to end the strike shot and killed 34 miners, wounded another 78, and arrested 270 strikers. Police said they acted in self-defense when they were attacked by miners armed mainly with homemade machetes, clubs, and spears.

But local news reports have quoted survivors saying some miners were shot at close range as they tried to surrender, and that autopsies show others were shot in the back as they attempted to run away from the barrage of police gunfire.

Only took three weeks to surface in my paper, but.... 

The National Union of Mine­workers, South Africa’s leading trade union which is close to political leaders, said the accord ‘‘signals the good intentions of the participants to end the violence, threats and intimidation that has become a characteristic in the daily life of Marikana.’’


"South African politician urges national strike; Seeks to derail mines, remove union leaders" by Michelle Faul  |  Associated Press, September 12, 2012

DRIEFONTEIN, South Africa — In a speech punctuated by the cheers of thousands of miners and the blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas, firebrand politician Julius Malema called Tuesday for a national strike in all of South Africa’s mines, encouraging the escalation of labor unrest that has already halted production at two platinum and gold mines.

If you want to get someone's attention..... 

Also see: South Africa Still the Same

Sure seems that way. 

Some 60 miles away, 8,000 more striking miners and their followers, shadowed by police in armored cars and helicopters, marched to a hospital to see some of the 190 miners who say they were beaten and tortured in police custody. A mining company security guard wearing a bulletproof vest told reporters the patients had been evacuated for safety reasons.

A phalanx of police and armored cars blocked marchers from the hospital.

The scene in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg, was peaceful but tense, though strikers are threatening to kill anyone who goes to work. Miner unrest has become a central issue in South Africa since police shot and killed 34 striking miners and wounded 78 on Aug. 16 at Lonmin PLC’s platinum mine at Marikana.

On Tuesday, journalists found the body of another slain man at Marikana, with deep gashes to the back of the neck. Police confirmed a body was found near a granite hill where strikers normally gather....

Therefore they must have done it, right?

Malema told striking miners at a gold mine near Driefontein that this nation’s critically important mining industry should be stopped in its tracks to force the removal of the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers, which is cozy with the power elite including South African President Jacob Zuma, Malema’s archenemy.

‘‘There must be a national strike. They have been stealing this gold from you. Now it is your turn. You want your piece of gold. These people are making billions from these mines,’’ Malema said.

He was cheered by strikers who gathered in a soccer field at the west section of Gold Fields International’s KDC gold mine, carrying traditional sticks and blowing on vuvuzelas, plastic horns made popular by World Cup soccer.

If you really want to irritate and annoy someone..... pppppphhhhhhh!

Malema led the miners in chants of ‘‘Kill the boer,’’ a song from the antiapartheid struggle referring to white farmers. Malema was expelled from the ruling African National Congress this year for sowing disunity and failing to accept party discipline. Party leaders had criticized Malema, a former leader of the ANC’s youth wing, for singing ‘‘Kill the boer.’’

Apartheid, or racist white rule, ended in 1994 with South Africa’s first all-race elections. Today, the struggle is not shaping up as white versus black but as the marginalized lashing out largely at the small black elite that has emerged in this mineral-rich country. The black president has been the focus of much of the miners’ ire.

‘‘He must do what he promised to do,’’ said Aaron Thabili, a miner who supports his wife and three children with a take-home salary of about $487 per month. ‘‘He knows what he promised the people of South Africa . . . jobs, a better life, better salaries. And we have got the right to take [vote] him out if he does nothing for us.’’

Victor Botsane, a loader driver at Gold Fields, said he is striking for better pay, even though that means he earns no salary each day he’s off the job.

‘‘If we don’t work we know we aren’t going to get paid,’’ he said. ‘‘But they aren’t going to get any profits.’’

That's the way you really hurt them. 


More backfires:

"South African strikes spread; 4 mines closed" by Andrew Meldrum and Michelle Faul  |  Associated Press, September 13, 2012

MARIKANA, South Africa — Hundreds of striking miners forced the closure Wednesday of four mines of Anglo American Platinum, the world’s largest producer, as labor unrest spread in South Africa’s biggest industry.

Just wondering why it takes such things for the rulers to finally listen?

More than 60,000 miners were not working Wednesday, though it is unclear how many support the strike to demand a monthly take-home pay of $1,560 — and how many are frightened by intimidation and death threats if they report for duty.

The plight of miners living in tin shacks while they produce the raw materials for luxury goods under dangerous conditions has put a spotlight on the South African government’s failure to meet basic needs like clean water and decent health care. It also has drawn attention to the widening gap between a small black elite that lives sumptuously while many South Africans worry about where their next meal will come from....

What happened to the white minority they are in partnership with?


"Third platinum mine shut in S. Africa" Associated Press, September 15, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — A third platinum mine closed in South Africa on Friday, even as police moved to disperse the strikers outside.

I sure hope they didn't have any guns.

The effort to remove the strikers was launched within hours of the government ­vowing to end violence spreading in the crucial ­mining sector.

Xstrata Platinum Ltd said it temporarily suspended operations at Kroondal mine ‘‘to ensure the safety and security of employees and assets’’ amid the increasing tensions.

The mine employs 5,300 workers, who apparently were threatened by strikers from Anglo-American Platinum who had massed outside.

I'm getting tired of the narrative. 

The South African Press Association said police arrested at least one striker who was herded by a helicopter ­into the arms of officers on the ground.

It is the first time police acted against protesters since they killed 34 strikers Aug. 16 at Lonmin platinum mine.

Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s justice minister, threatened earlier in the day to use more force against the striking ­miners.

Radebe told reporters the government will no longer tolerate protests in which miners brandish machetes, knives, spears, and clubs. Such marches have become daily events in the Lonmin mine strike, which is in its fifth week.

Radebe refused to say whether officers will be allowed to use live ammunition.


"Miners end bloody strike in South Africa" by Carley Petesch  |  Associated Press, September 19, 2012

Sounds like the miners were responsible for the blood, doesn't it? 

MARIKANA, South Africa — About 5,000 strikers gathered in a stadium Tuesday to listen to the deal and cheered when they accepted the offer. They then formed a line and danced out of the stadium....

One worker held up a hand inscribed in black ink with the phrase ‘‘Mission Accomplished.’’


"South Africa begins investigating mine violence" Associated Press, October 02, 2012

MARIKANA, South Africa — A special judicial panel Monday opened its investigation into the Aug. 16 killings of 34 striking miners by South African police, visiting the rocky site where the clash took place.

What, they don't trust the cops?

Investigators showed the commission of inquiry the scene of the shootings that were South Africa’s worst state violence since apartheid ended in 1994. President Jacob Zuma ordered the judicial inquiry to determine the causes of the police killings, which shook the nation.

More than 100 people, including many protesting against the killings, followed the members of the judicial panel as they visited the scene. ‘‘Don’t let the police get away with murder,’’ was written on placards carried by several protesters.

Among those participating in the inquiry is George Bizos, former lawyer for Nelson Mandela and now of the Legal Resources Center, which is representing some family members of the dead miners.

In addition to those killed, some 78 were injured and more than 250 arrested in the shootings.


I agree with the young man's sign, and need I remind you that it also happens here, America. Every day.

"Striking miners in South Africa fired" Associated Press, October 06, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 striking miners Friday for staging an unlawful strike that is one of several that are slowly paralyzing South ­Africa’s crucial mining sector.

Didn't they do this before? 

About 80,000 miners, representing 16 percent of the country’s mine workforce, are striking in a wave of wildcat work stoppages that have serious economic and political impli­cations for South Africa.

Strike leader Gaddafi ­Mdoda, a mineworker at ­Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, said he was one of the workers who received e-mails or text messages telling them they had been dismissed.

‘‘Things are bad here,’’ Mdoda said. The strike leader said he was shocked by the decision to dismiss striking workers.

‘‘Approximately 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed in their absence,’’ a statement from Amplats said, according to the South African Press Agency.

Amplats is the world’s largest platinum producer. South Africa produces 75 percent of the world’s platinum.


And about those armed protesters:

"Evidence in South African miners’ deaths questioned; Photos suggest police in S. Africa planted weapons" by Carley Petesch  |  Associated Press, November 07, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — South African police may have altered evidence and planted weapons after they shot dead 34 striking miners near Lonmin’s Marikana mines in August, according to photographic evidence presented at a commission of inquiry into the killings.


Photographs taken by police the night after the shootings show more weapons by the dead bodies than there were in photographs taken immediately after the violence on Aug. 16.

Police and armies do it all the time.

Thousands of miners had gathered at hills in Marikana about 58 miles northwest of Johannesburg where 34 miners were shot dead by police and 78 wounded in the worst state violence since the end of apartheid in 1994.

South Africa is conducting a commission of inquiry to look into the parties responsible for 46 deaths, including two policemen and two security guards, during nearly six weeks of strikes at the Lonmin Marikana mines.

Video evidence shown Monday also indicated that some of the slain miners may have been handcuffed.  National police commissioner Riah Phiyega said that the commission has launched an investigation into the discrepancies. She said she was presented with evidence that may have suggested one of the crime scenes had been tampered with nearly two weeks ago.

Human rights lawyer George Bizos said the evidence presented at the inquiry clearly indicates an attempt was made to alter the scene.

“The evidence clearly showed there is at least a strong prima facie case that there has been an attempt to defeat the ends of justice,’’ he said. Bizos, who is representing the Legal Resources Centre and Bench Marks Foundation during the inquiry, called on senior police officers in charge of the scene to present evidence.

A crime scene specialist, Captain Apollo Mohlaki, who took the night photographs, was questioned during the inquiry Monday. He admitted his photographs showed more weapons around the bodies than those taken earlier, according to the South Africa Press Association. In one set of photos, a man’s mangled dead body lies alone in the daylight, and in a picture taken by electric light after dark, there is a machete under the man’s hand.

Mohlaki said he saw the weapon under the man’s arm in the photograph he took, but when looking at the day photograph of the same body he said of the weapon: ‘‘It is not appearing, I don’t see it.’’

On Tuesday, the commission saw photographs of the bodies of the security guards, who were among those killed before the Aug. 16 shootings. The photographs showed one of the guards with his tongue cut out while the legs of the other security official were visible in the charred remains of a security vehicle torched by the protesters, according to SAPA. Another photograph showed a group of marchers fleeing with a shotgun stolen from the security guards, it said.

The inquiry began last month and is expected to continue for four months, investigating the roles played by police, miners, unions, and Lonmin in the August deaths.


RelatedParole for former S. African top cop stirs outcry

That doesn't give one much hope, does it?

Also see: South Africa's Chief of Corruption

"SAfrican gets life for killing white supremacist" by EMOKE BEBIAK  |  Associated Press, August 23, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — A black farmworker was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the brutal murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche in a case that has been a source of racial tension in the city of Ventersdorp.

About 100 protesters sang antiwhite songs outside the courtroom in the city just west of Johannesburg to support 30-year-old Chris Mahlangu, who had pleaded guilty but argued that he acted in self-defense in what the judge found was a violent dispute over wages.

Hey, if it works for the police.... 

About 20 white counterprotesters carried the dummy of a black man with a rope around his neck and a sign that said: ‘‘Hang Mahlangu.’’

As Mahlangu was leaving the court, the protesters tied the effigy to a pickup truck and drove around the black crowd.

Mahlangu was found guilty for beating Terreblanche, 69, to death with an iron in April 2010. Mahlangu said he feels he did no wrong by ridding the world of a man some called a monster.

The judge had rejected a defense argument that Mahlangu had been sodomized by Terreblanche and acted in self-defense. Mahlangu also claimed that Terreblanche infected him with HIV.

See: Sunday Globe Special: South African Zombies

Zola Majavu, Mahlangu’s lawyer, said on Wednesday that they are planning to appeal both the court’s findings and the sentence.

On Wednesday, Mahlangu said he has converted to Islam while in prison.

Terreblanche co-founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement to seek an all-white republic within South Africa.