Police fire on striking miners in South Africa, unknown death count
On Thursday, police fired into a crowd of striking miners in South Africa. The death count has not yet been released.
Thousands of miners at one of the world’s largest platinum mines had been on strike for a week before the incident, demanding a salary increase of nearly $1,000. On Thursday, they brought guns and machetes with them.
The South African Police released a statement insisting that the police were simply reacting to violence from the crowd at the Marikana mines. A CNN report quotes the statement as reading, “The South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms. The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self defense, were forced to engage the group with force.”
Reuters reports that talks with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union had not gone successfully, and the police viewed force as their only option to clear the mines of protesting Marikana employees.
South Africa is the world’s main producer of platinum, but its mines have been embroiled in a months-long conflict between rival unions of workers.
In response to the violence, Lonmin, the owner of the mine has shut down all operations in South Africa. Lonmin says that because of the strike and violence, it will not meet its yearly quota.