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 towards the police firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons,” Commissioner Phiyega said. Previous attempts by the 500-strong police force to repel them with rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades had failed, she said in an emotional news conference here.
“This is no time for finger-pointing,” Commissioner Phiyega said. “It is a time for us to mourn the sad and black moment we experienced as a country.”
President Jacob Zuma cut short his trip to neighboring Mozambique for a regional summit to rush to the site of the bloody protest, some 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg. It was South Africa’s worst labor-related violence since 1994.
The shooting left a field strewed with bodies and a deepening fault line between the governing African National Congress and a nation that, 18 years after the end of apartheid, is increasingly impatient with deep poverty, rampant unemployment and yawning inequality.
The police retrieved six guns from the protesters, including one that had been taken from a police officer who was hacked to death by the workers earlier in the week, Commissioner Phiyega said, as well as many machetes, cudgels and spears.
Earlier on Friday, speaking to a local talk radio station, South Africa’s police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, had said that 30 people had been
Category: Africa News