The commissioner, Riah Phiyega, described a desperate struggle by the police to contain the machete-wielding crowd of thousands of angry miners who broke through two lines of defense, leaving officers with no choice but to open fire with live ammunition.
“The militant group stormed toward the police firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons,” Ms. Phiyega said at an emotional news conference here, using an extensive array of aerial photographs and video to demonstrate how the violence unfolded. Previous attempts by the 500-strong police force to repel the crowd with rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades had failed, she said.
“This is no time for finger-pointing,” Ms. Phiyega said. “It is a time for us to mourn the sad and dark moment we experienced as a country.”
It was South Africa’s worst labor-related violence since 1994. The shootings stunned the nation: front pages of newspapers were plastered with pictures of dead miners lying in a field above headlines like “Bloodbath” and “Killing Fields.”
President Jacob Zuma cut short his trip to neighboring Mozambique for a regional summit meeting to rush to the site of the bloody protest, 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg.
“These events are not what we want to see or what we want to become accustomed to in a democracy that is bound by rule of law,” Mr. Zuma said in prepared remarks. He announced the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the illegal strike and the response of the police.
The police retrieved six guns from the protesters, including one that
Category: Africa News