17 August 2012

South Africa: Cops Had to Use Force - Phiyega

Photo: Greg Marinovich/Daily Maverick
Striking workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine. The shooting erupted when police sought to disperse armed, striking workers who had gathered on a hill, in the area that had already seen several deaths in violent protests in the past week.

Rustenburg — The shooting of 34 workers on a hilltop near Lonmin mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, happened after the police rolled out barbed wire, police chief Riah Phiyega said on Friday.

As the police deployed the barbed wire, a group of protesters tried to outflank them.

"They were met by members of the police who tried to reposte the advance with a water cannon, teargas as well as stun grenades," Phiyega told reporters in Rustenburg.

"The attempt was unsuccessful and the police members had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group."

The police were closing in on the group of protesters when "the militant group stormed towards the police, firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons", said Phiyega.

"Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force."

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