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Action demanded in the wake of SA police shootings: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 6 September 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
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The President of the South African Council of Churches, the Anglican Bishop of  Pretoria Jo Seoka has published an open letter calling upon President Jacob Zuma to investigate the 16 August 2012 police killing of 34 striking miners.

“The coming investigation into the shootings must commence promptly and consist of an impartial commission that will be able to establish responsibilities for the incident at all levels within the police force and government, and the top management of Lonmin,” Bishop Seoka said.

Last month police fired into a crowd of 3000 miners gathered on a hillside close to the Lonmin Platinum mine near Rustenburg after miners attacked police lines.

The mines have been the scene of labour tensions between two rival unions: the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union for the right to represent the mine’s 28,000 employees.  In early August ten people, including two policemen, were killed in skirmishes between the unions who are also calling for a £600 a month wage increase from the British owned company.

Lonmin had a poor reputation the bishop said. “Communities in the area say that mines’ corporate social responsibility programmes are ‘lies’ as they make a lot of promises when they enter a community but often do not deliver,’ Bishop Seoka said, adding “the majority of the projects are done to satisfy their public image and rarely do they consult with workers to find out what they actually need.”

However, he announced that in his talks with management, “we are pleased to announce that Lonmin have finally agreed to meet with representatives of the strikers,” Bishop Seoka reported, adding that Lonmin had backed away from its threat to sack the striking workers.

At the first of four funerals held for the dead on 23 Aug, Bishop Seoka told the congregation the shootings brought back memories of the apartheid struggle.  “We are shocked as a nation about what happened. None of us ever thought it would happen again.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba warned political leaders not to exploit the tragedy for their own purposes telling the congregation “These are God’s people, we need to respect the dignity and sanctity of their lives.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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