South Africa: Murder charges against miners “provisionally withdrawn”

From NPR:

The South African government is reversing its decision to charge 270 striking miners for the murder of their colleagues. Sort of.

The BBC is reporting the charges are being provisionally dropped. However, prosecutors say they cannot completely dismiss the murder charges formally until the end of the inquiry into the situation. This means the miners could still be charged with murder under the apartheid-era “common purpose” law. Until the inquiry is finished, the miners are being released from prison.

The decision to provisionally drop murder charges has done nothing to ease public dismay at the situation. After all, the decision to invoke the “common purpose” law lays the blame for the deaths of 34 miners on the shoulders of their peers, not the police officers who actually shot them.

The logic is that when about 3,000 miners went on strike two weeks ago, the police were provoked into using deadly force to keep things from getting out of hand. They felt threatened, according to police, because the strikers were wielding machetes.

Here’s how CNN describes the incident:

Police spokesman Dennis Adrio said that some of those killed in the clash had gunshot wounds in their backs and that weapons were recovered at the scene.

The fatal incident occurred after negotiations between striking miners and mining company Lonmin broke down and police decided to fence in the machete-armed miners with barbed wire, police said.

The protesting miners moved toward police and were driven back with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police said they resorted to live ammunition when protesters attacked, leaving 34 people dead and 78 others wounded.

No police officers have been charged with the deaths pending a judicial inquiry and internal police review, which could take months.

It’s still not clear why prosecutors decided to invoke “common purpose” law. The doctrine was employed during the apartheid years to crack down on black opponents of the minority-white ruling party. Applying it to the current situation seems to highlight the growing tensions in South Africa over increased income disparity and high rates of unemployment.

In the meantime, negotiations between the miners’ labor unions and the mine operators, Lonmin, are still underway. The platinum mine, which is about two hours northwest of Johannesburg, has been closed for the past three weeks.

South Africa: Arrested miners to be charged with the murder of their massacred comrades

From the BBC:

Workers arrested at South Africa’s Marikana mine will be charged later with the murder of 34 colleagues shot by police, an official has said.

A prosecuting authority spokesman told the BBC that 270 workers would be tried under the “common purpose” doctrine.

They were in the crowd which confronted the police, who opened fire, sparking a national outcry.

Police have not been charged because a commission of inquiry would investigate their actions, the spokesman said.

Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the 16 August shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa’s North West province.

The other 264 workers are appearing in the Garankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.

About 100 people are protesting outside court, demanding their immediate release.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego said they would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,” he said.

Mr Lesenyego said the updated indictments had already been given to the defence and these would be formally delivered to the accused in court, starting on Thursday.

The conflict at the mine was triggered by a dispute over pay and union recognition, which has paralysed operations for three weeks.

During a visit to the mine after the killings, President Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the killings.

Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.

South African anarchist statement on the Marikana Massacre

From Anarkismo:

Joint statement on the Marikana Massacre issued by the Tokologo Anarchist Collective, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front and Inkululeko Wits Anarchist Collective.

The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

Capitalists and politicians guilty! Stop police brutality.
No justice, no peace. No Zuma, no Malema, no LONMIN!
The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
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South Africa: At least 18 killed by police during miners’ strike

From Russia Today:

At least 18 bodies are lying bloodied and motionless on the ground, after local police opened fire on striking miners, South African news agency reports. Some of those protesting are said to have been armed with machetes and spears.

­Prior to Thursday’s fire violent clashes had killed at least 9 in the mining town, lying North West of Johannesburg. Owned by Lonmin plc, the platinum mine has been the centre of protests since last Friday, with a stand-off originating over wage disputes.

Fighting intensified over the weekend when two police officers were killed- striking workers and local security guards have also been caught up in the violence.

On Thursday demonstrators were joined by a group of women pledging to stand by their husbands as they fight for better pay.

South Africa: The Murder of Andries Tatane

From LibCom:

South African activist Andries Tatane was buried in the small rural town of Ficksburg yesterday. He was murdered by the police on a demonstration of four and a half thousand people last week. Shawn Hatting from the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front has developed the first libertarian communist response to the last of a growing number of police murders of grassroots activists in South Africa.

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

On the 13th April, people in South Africa were stunned. On the evening news the sight of six police force members brutally beating a man, Andries Tatane, to death was aired. The images of the police smashing his body with batons and repeatedly firing rubber bullets into his chest struck a cord; people were simply shocked and appalled. Literally hundreds of articles followed in the press, politicians of all stripes also hopped on the bandwagon and said they lamented his death; and most called for the police to receive appropriate training to deal with ‘crowd control’ – after all, elections are a month away.

Andries Tatane’s death was the culmination of a protest march in the Free State town of Ficksburg. The march involved over 4,000 people, who undertook the action to demand the very basics of life – decent housing, access to water and electricity, and jobs. They had repeatedly written to the mayor and local government of Ficksburg pleading for these necessities. Like a group of modern day Marie Antoinettes, the local state officials brushed off these pleas; more important matters no doubt needed to be attended to – like shopping for luxury cars; banking the latest fat pay check; handing tenders out to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) connections and talking shit in the municipal chambers. Therefore, when the township residents had the audacity to march, and call for a response, the police were promptly unleashed with water cannons and rubber bullets. If the impoverished black residents of Ficksburg could not get the hint, in the form of silence; then the state and local politicians were going to ensure that they got the message beaten into them.

The reason why specifically Andries Tatane was murdered was because he had the cheek, in the eyes of the officials involved, to question police force members about why they were firing a water cannon at an elderly person – who clearly was not a threat to the burly brutes that make up South Africa’s arm of the law. For that act of decency, he paid dearly: with his life. The message was clear – how dare anyone question the authority of the state and its right to use force wherever and whenever it deems necessary.
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South Africa: Five more members of Landless People’s Movement arrested

The crackdown on the Landless People’s Movement in Johannesburg continues. Two LPM militants have been killed in recent days and, following the arrest of five people last night, ten are currently in prison.

Friday, 04 June 2010
Landless People’s Movement Press Statement

The Attack on the Landless People’s Movement Continues
Five More People have Been Arrested in Protea South

Last night the police went from door to door with an informer in the shacks of Protea South, Soweto. They arrested five members of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM). Three of the people that they arrested are children of Maureen Mnisi, chairperson of the LPM in Gauteng. The other two are her neighbours.

Since the current wave of repression began when the LPM was attacked in Protea South by the Homeowner’s Association on 23 May 2010 two people have been killed. One was shot dead by the Homeowner’s Association in Protea South and one was shot dead by the police in eTwatwa. Other people have been beaten, shot, arrested and threatened with having their homes burnt down. Two people have had their homes burnt down in eTwatwa. There are now seven LPM members in jail in Protea South and thee LPM members in jail in eTwatwa.

The police have promised that they will make more arrests soon. They said that the five people arrested last night will be charged with burning the electricity transformer in Protea South. The transformer was burnt down on 23 May. On that night the wealthier residents of Protea South living in private bonded houses armed themselves and went around beating shack dwellers who had connected themselves to electricity and forcibly disconnecting them from electricity. They shot two people and one person died. They also tried to burn down Maureen Mnisi’s house. Her house was saved when LPM members defended it by erecting a burning barricade and throwing stones at the mob from the Homeowner’s Association. Some members of the community burnt down the electricity box to show the wealthier residents of Protea South that if they want to deny electricity to the poor then it will be denied to everyone. This is tactic of disconnecting the rich if they disconnect the poor (or ask the state to do it) has been used in Siyanda, Pemary Ridge and Motala Heights in Durban.
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South Africa: Police kill Landless People’s Movement militant

Landless People's MovementThe Landless People’s Movement in Johannesburg continues to face repression. A number of its leaders are now in hiding. Police attack in eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni; one person is dead and another seriously injured.

Saturday, 29 May 2010
Landless People’s Movement Press Statement

On Sunday 23 May residents of the bond houses in Protea South, Soweto, attacked the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) in the shacks in Protea South. They went around disconnecting us from electricity and beating those who had been connected to electricity. They tried to burn down Maureen Mnisi’s shack and two people were shot. One died on the scene.

Today the police attacked the LPM in eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni. At least three people were shot with live ammunition. One person has died and another is currently being operated on in hospital.

The background to the police attack on the LPM in eTwatwa is that on Tuesday 24 May we organised a march on the Councillor for Ward 65, Cllr Baleka. The different extensions each had their own demands but at the last point of the memorandum we all united on one demand which is that the Councillor must immediately step down. We indicated that we expected a response to our demands within seven days.

On Thursday 26 May the Provincial Government sent us a fax saying that they would meet us next Wednesday.

The situation in Extension 18 of eTwetwa is very bad. There is no electricity, no sewerage, no roads, not even water – there is nothing. The Councillor did start a project to build toilets but she said that only 717 of the 1 149 people would benefit as the rest of the people would be evicted to make way for a new road to be built by the provincial government. They want to move these people to transit areas. Obviously we cannot accept this. We have stayed in Extension 18 for many years.
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South Africa: Landless People’s Movement attacked in Soweto

South Africa ABCFrom our comrades at the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Front:

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has been attacked in Soweto, Johannesburg. Their partners in the Poor People’s Alliance (PPA), Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) were attacked in Durban in September last year. Information is still sketchy at this point but it could well be that the attacks are part of a broader crack down on popular movements by the African National Congress.
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