Last Thursday was a sad day in the history of independent South Africa when black policemen opened fire on striking miners, killed 34 of them and injured 78 others. In a provocative statement issued by the Authorities of the South Africa Police Service it was claimed that the brutal attack was carried out in self-defense. But the video footage of the incident has clearly shown that the miners were running away from teargas smoke when the police engaged in the reckless shooting and killed them.

The Police Commissioner who made the callous and insensitive statement should be fired for the desperate move to cover up the heinous crime committed by the murderers in police uniform.

The cold murder of the miners is a tragic reminder of the white police firing at anti apartheid protesters and school children in the 1960s and 1970s. Now it is a police force dominated by blacks that is killing miners and other oppressed people in South Africa who are justifiably demanding for the dividend of the liberation struggle.

Instead of addressing the demands of the miners for improved wages and nationalization of the white controlled mining industry the Jacob Zuma Administration ignored the workers until the Police decided to kill 34 of them. The strike provides a golden opportunity for the African National Congress to arrest the growing inequality between a white minority of bourgeoisie joined by a tiny black elite and the majority of black people wallowing in abject poverty. President Zuma who had based his campaign on black empowerment should be blamed for the xenophobic attacks and police killing of the oppressed Africans in a free South África.

Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the killing of the miners the setting up of a commission of inquiry by President Zuma is totally uncalled for. This was the methodology of the apartheid regime to douse tension, divert attention and shield official killers from prosecution. The commission should be wound up while all the murder suspects should be arrested and charged to court for homicide. Let the Police Authorities go to the court to plead self-defense on behalf of the suspects.

In a similar situation the Federal Government of Nigeria has deployed a detachment of the Nigerian Army to the headquarters of the Power Holding Company in Abuja to deal with the unarmed workers who are demanding for payment of their legitimate entitlements from the authorities before the privatization of the company. Having collected about N300 million which was illegally diverted from the Federal Ministry of Power the Army Authorities are hell bent on flushing out the striking workers to pave way for the planned liquidation of the assets of the PHCN. As all efforts by the Nigeria Labour Congress and other interest groups to persuade the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji to end the military occupation have failed the armed troops have threatened to "deal ruthlessly" with the workers. It means that the soldiers may open fire on the striking workers any moment from now.

In order to prevent the killing of unarmed electricity workers by the armed goons the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan should order the Chief of Army Staff to end the siege. The Authorities of the Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Public Enterprises should equally be prevailed upon by the Federal Government to enter into meaningful negotiations with the striking workers without any further delay.

Femi Falana

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