LONMIN MARIKANE MINE TRAGEDY

THE METHODIST CHURCH OF SOUTHERN AFRICA

NATAL COASTAL DISTRICT

BISHOP MIKE VORSTER

138 ESTHER ROBERTS, GLENWOOD,

P O BOX 50452, MUSGRAVE, 4062

Tel: 031 202 3662

Fax: 031 202 0099

Email: ntlcoast@mweb.co.za

 

LONMIN MARIKANE MINE TRAGEDY

AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE SENSE

(Some of my ideas are loosely based on ETV News 18 August analysis)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

 

Dearly beloved of God through Christ

 

As with many others I am shocked at this tragedy. I have found it useful to ease some of my feelings by trying to make sense of this unnecessary incident- (something I thought was only possible under the Apartheid regime.) I share some of my thoughts with you.

 

POLICE STRATEGY:

·         Three SAPS groups move in to break up miners in smaller groups for ease of arrest.

SCENARIOS:

·         Scenario 1: Police Group one hears shots fired, thinking it came from miners. They open fire. Mayhem follows. 34 left dead.

·         Scenario 2: Police Group two shoots rubber bullet and fires teargas. Miners run toward police to get away from teargas. Police think their colleagues are threatened. Mayhem follows. 34 left dead.

·         Scenario 3: A shot is fired from the miners. Police panic and open fire, in self-defence. Mayhem follows. 34 left dead.

Of course, there other possible scenarios – which an enquiry will reveal.

 

INTERVENTIONS:

·         Trade Union leader tried to persuade miners to come down from the mountain.

·         Just before the shooting SACC General Secretary and President spoke to Mine management and were about to move across to miners when they were warned of imminent danger.

BLAME:

·         Everyone is blaming everyone else and no one is prepared at this stage to accept responsibility. Let us wait and see.

 

SOME QUESTIONS:

·         Was this a case of self-defence by the police with excessive force?

·         Were there other sinister forces behind this?

·         Were the SAPS itching for a chance to get back at Miners for the killing of their two colleagues?

·         Was this a tactical error by under-trained and inexperienced officers?

·         To what extent does the militarisation of the police (calling them generals in old style Apartheid ways etc.) and the shoot to kill rhetoric from politicians explain the mindset of the police to over react in this excessive way?

·         The cause of the strike was over poor wages for the mineworkers which started out as labour dispute (which is not unusual) and ends up with being a public order issue. How did this happen?

·         How much longer must mineworkers who work under appalling conditions, wait for a decent wage whilst the managers and mine owners give themselves bonuses and live extravagant life-styles at the expense of those who make them rich? This is a broader socio-economic issue – which we must not ignore in the investigation of this incident.

 

TRAGEDY:

The figure of those killed in this incident is said to be 34, with many others in hospital. Other figures bring the total death since this strike started at 45 (including two SAPS). When we quantify these figures into the impact on families, friends and the nation – the pain is huge. I would encourage all churches to pray for this tragedy.

 

We are saddened and shocked at the unnecessary and tragic loss of life during the Mineworkers dispute at Marikana. We pray for those who have passed on. We pray especially for their loved ones. May sense, peace and justice prevail.  Amen

 

SHALOM

BISHOP MIKE