Phone video of South Africa mine massacre pressures police

Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:17am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A cell phone video broadcast this week of the police shooting of 34 miners in South Africa last year has piled more pressure on the security forces, showing officers bragging about the killings and undermining claims that they fired in self-defense.

Reuters television footage of some of the killings at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine showed a dozen striking miners being cut down in a hail of police bullets.

The images of the bloodiest security incident since apartheid shocked the world, and dented the reputation of Nelson Mandela's "Rainbow Nation" and the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which faces an election next year.

Since then the pay strikes have abated, but turmoil in the sector has continued, with the world's biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum Ltd, infuriating miners and the ANC alike with plans to mothball mines accounting for 3 pct of South Africa's workforce.

Most of the Marikana victims died in and around a small cluster of rocks - a 'koppie' in Afrikaans - about 400 meters (yards) away from the main confrontation, out of sight of reporters and television cameras.

It is here that multiple witness reports have spoken of police officers gunning down miners as they surrendered, or shooting them in the back as they fled.

The cell phone footage from the koppie, aired on Britain's Channel 4 television, shows a police officer lying on the ground behind a rock with his pistol drawn.

The images were shot by a colleague, also lying in the grass, with the barrel of his sidearm regularly moving into the frame.   Continued...

Demonstrators wave placards during a site inspection by the judicial commission of inquiry into the shootings at Lonmin's Marikana mine in this file photo taken October 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings