At least 12 people were killed and several injured when police opened fire to disperse rival miners who clashed at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa's North West province on Thursday.
Media reports citing eye witnesses said police opened fire after miners of the Lonmin company-owned mine carrying machetes, clubs and spears fought each other and turned to the police when they intervened. They used teargas, water cannons and stun grenades before opening fire on the defiant miners who turned down repeated police requests to lay down arms, the reports added.
Ruling as well as Opposition parties condemned the firing, with President Jacob Zuma saying that he was "shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence. We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialog without any breaches of the law or violence."
In a statement, he called upon the labor movement and business to work with government to arrest the situation before it deteriorated any further.
The mining company in a statement earlier on Thursday said the striking workers would be sacked if they did not appear at their shifts on Friday. "The striking [workers] remain armed and away from work," the statement read.
The platinum mine, the world's third biggest, has been at the center of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between rival trade unions. Ten people had died in violence since the strike began last Friday.
The company said it had missed six days of production as a result of the unrest, and estimated it would lose around two percent of its normal yearly output of saleable platinum.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com