S African police commissioner defends shootings at Marikana mine

A comment the commissioner may come to0 regret

Mail and Guardian

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega says officers shouldn’t be sorry about the shooting near Lonmin in Marikana, which left 34 protesting miners dead.

Lonmin: Platinum mines in chaos

Tragedy at Lonmin

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“Safety of the public is not negotiable. Don’t be sorry about what happened,” Phiyega was quoted as saying by the Sowetan newspaper on Monday.

She was speaking at Warrant Officer Sello Ronnie Lepaku’s funeral on Sunday, who was allegedly killed by protesting Lonmin miners last Monday.

On Thursday, 34 striking workers were shot dead in a clash with police near the North West mine in an attempt to disperse them from a hilltop where they had gathered.

Phiyega urged police officers to be cautious and vigilant and to wear bulletproof vests, shields and helmets at all times.

“We confront, every day, heartless criminals who are gunning for our lives,” she said.

“You can put yourselves in danger a thousand times and come out unscathed or just once and not make it. You never know in advance how things will turn out and that is our line of work.”

‘Leave the weapons’
Lonmin Platinum called on striking workers on Monday to “leave the weapons” and return to their workplace to discuss their demands.

“We still are very optimistic that workers will show up,” said Barnard Mokwena, executive vice president of human capital and external affairs.

“Only then can we sit down and review the situation and determine the next action,” he said.

The illegal strike halted production at the world’s third biggest platinum mine in Rustenburg.

Mokwena said the mine had never refused to talk to workers.

“We have asked workers through their structures to come through to engage management.” Read more…

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