Few links (warning: graphic):
South African police open fire on striking miners - World - CBC News
South Africa police defend shooting that killed 34 miners - World - CBC News
South Africa shocked by police shootings at mine - CNN.com
A South African mine in the city of Marikana has become the centre of one of the biggest news story of the year so far due to a huge labour dispute between two miners' unions and the mine's British parent company, Lonmin.
Across the country miners are decrying that they are being paid a penitence for the work they do. At the Marikana mine the unions where demanding a pay raise to 1500$ per month, up from the current 300-500$ per month. Violence clashes had already started since the beginning of the strike. Since last week two security guards, two would-be picket breakers and two policemen have been killed by strikers.
The details are still a bit sketchy, but from what we know for sure yesterday the police tried to break the picket using water canons and stun grenades. The strikers, armed with various white arms, retaliated by charging the police line. The police retreated and shot at the picketers using automatic weapons to cover their retreat. The end result is that 34 miners are dead and a further 78 are injured.
This incident seems to have shocked South Africa at it's core and appears to be a symptom of very deep discontent among poor black South Africans that haven't seen the improvements in their daily life they had hopped for after the end of apartheid, which has lead a rapid loss of goodwill towards Nelson Mandela's old party, the ANC. It's worth noting that while South Africa has an unemployment rate of 23% only 6% of whites are unemployed compared to 21% of mixed raced and 28% of blacks. It's also worth noting that of all countries ranked by the World Bank South Africa has the second highest Gini coefficient (income inequality), behind only Namibia which was part of South Africa until 1990.
Anyway, what do you guys think about this situation? And what impact do you think this will have on South African society?
Looking at this from the outside, it looks to me that this will re-open a lot of wounds from the apartheid era. Hopefully this event will eventually bring about positive social changes without further bloodshed. The gap between haves and haves not in South Africa is absolutely immense currently, and I think that what happened yesterday is quite clearly systematic of that.
It's really shocking to see such violence from the strikers (six murders leading up to the police intervention) and the bloodshed it all lead to. This whole story is just profoundly sad on many levels.