Marikana: a place that has become associated with the words – violence and mayhem. Recently, the Marikana mine workers began to strike against mine owners, saying they deserve a pay increase. They currently earn seven thousand rand a month and work horrendous hours. The miners protesting become restless as their pleas went unheard. Once the mining workers became agitated, the police were forced to step in.
On August the 16th police shot and killed thirty-four strikers- some miners and others locals looking for jobs. One protestor in particular was shot in the foot and subsequently taken to the local hospital. The police then followed the miner to the hospital. Upon arrival, the police found the miners rooms, dragged him out of the hospital. The police then beat the miner to a pulp before shooting him.
The first question that immediately springs to mind is the patient safety in the hospitals. The hospital should have taken the badly injured miner and ensured protection for the miner whilst they treated him. However, the second question takes us back on point: Was this brutality required?
The investigating team setup by Jacob Zuma, South African President, has hinted at the fact that miners where trying to run away from the shooting and not attempting to harm the police officers. However, one can take two sides to this argument- first: how does one really know what was going on in the minds of those miners and second: Did the police officers feel threatened and whilst making a judgement call, attempt to protect themselves from the ‘violence’?
As we fast-forward to today, the investigating team seem to have their hands full. Both prosecutors are attempting to charge the miners and police respectively with murder charges. The allegations state that police used excessive force to the mine workers, while the police maintain that they were trying to manage the crowd and feared for their lives as miners had guns, knives and other weapons in hand.
While the Marikana miners continue protesting- this time against the police forces. This incident brings to light a whole different topic of discussion. The police have been accused previously of using excessive force to calm and disperse crowds. One can argue this comes directly from the former Chief of Police, Bheki Cele. Cele stated that police should be allowed to shoot to kill and ask questions later. Perhaps the time has come to ask the questions before mindlessly massacring protestors.
Image Attribution: Pan-African News Wire File Photos
I am Greg Jones and work with patient safety program in South Africa. I feel it is important to understand police brutality and how it did not stop at the mines, but made its way into the hospitals. The same place doctors and nurses are meant to be helping patients recover… Something seems off about this incident in Marikana and we citizens should stand up and fight for answers,