South Africa’s Zuma justifies Marikana police shooting
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday defended police who shot dead 34 striking workers at Marikana in 2012, suggesting their action was aimed at protecting lives.
“Those people in Marikana had killed people, and the police were stopping them from killing people,” Zuma said in an audio clip of a speech recorded by Eyewitness News.
The president was addressing a crowd at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, which has been hit by violent student protests in the past.
Zuma had been speaking against police violence when he was suddenly interrupted by a heckler yelling that police had killed the Marikana miners.
The president responded that police were forced to open fire on the protesting workers because the miners had been killing people.
Zuma’s remarks come just days before he is due to release a report on the findings of a judicial inquiry into the 2012 incident that left 34 miners dead.
Evidence presented at the inquiry tarnished police claims that they had acted in self-defence when they gunned down the striking workers.
In the days before the shooting, 10 other people were killed in violence around the platinum mine — including non-striking miners, security guards and two police officers who were hacked to death.
Lawyers for the dead miners’ families labelled the incident an act of revenge by the police for their murdered colleagues, and accused officers of a cover-up.
Zuma has promised to release the report by the end of June.