Zuma returns home after Lonmin shooting

Police look over at Lonmin’s Marikana mine workers who were protesting on 16 August, 2012 for more wages. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News.
The National Union of Mineworkers' Frans Baleni tells 702's John Robbie that the Lonmin shooting "could have been avoided".
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa speaks to 702's John Robbie after officers open fire on striking Lonmin workers, killing at least 30.
Police open fire at protesting workers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North West on 16 August, 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN
Police opened fire at protesting workers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North West. Taurai Maduna reports.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has left the Southern African Development Community (Sadec) summit in Mozambique, to visit Lonmin's Western Platinum mine in the North West in the wake of Thursday's bloodbath in which as many as 36 people died in a shootout between miners and police.

Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the days leading up to Thursday's shooting.

Dramatic footage shows a group of armed miners charging police before the officers start shooting rubber bullets and live ammunition at the protestors. The officers then approach the wounded people and start removing firearms while checking if the men are alive.

Well-placed sources on the scene and in government have confirmed the president is en route to the mine.

Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, National Police Commissioner Riyah Phiyega and North West Premier Thandi Modise have already arrived there.

“Survival of the fittest, anarchy and lawlessness shouldn’t characterise wage negotiations in the mining sector,” said Modise's spokesperson Lesiba Kgwele.


The South African Institute of Race Relations in the meantime has called for the immediate suspension of all police officers involved in the Lonmin mine bloodbath. 

The institute has accused the officers of shooting into a crowd of people. 

Police argue they were acting in self-defence and spent four days trying to disarm protesters and calm tempers.

The institute's Lucy Holborn said charges of murder or culpable homicide should be investigated.

“The protest shows that the police were clearly armed with rifles and hand guns.

“They were using live ammunition and they weren’t carrying shields, which we know is the best practice in these sorts of crowd control situations.”

(Edited by Clare Matthes)