by Sarah Vrba August 24, 2012 9:00 pm
Reuters videographer John “Dinky” Mkhize was present at last week’s violent shooting in South Africa near a huge platinum mine. Police opened fire on striking mine workers who had been posted near the mine for a full week on August 16. They opened fire with automatic weapons on a group of strikers running towards police vehicles. The shooting lasted for several seconds before one officer shouted out, “Cease fire!”
The incident has shocked the nation and the world after 34 people were killed and a further 78 people were injured. Mkhize’s video is one of the first to show the brutality of the moment and includes many graphic images of bloodshed and destruction. Mkhize commented on the experience as he saw it from just two or three yards away, at the back of the police line.
This could have ended peacefully but, you know, since these guys [the striking mine workers] have been camping there for quite a number of days you could clearly tell that this was going to be different because they were not prepared to do what they were told by the police. Instead, they made it very clear that they will listen to the mining management or their leaders but no one else.
After police arrived, they met the crowd of workers holding machetes and sticks. Mkhize described the tension of the scene, “One could see that with the build-up of the police that, you know, the police were not going to let this go.” Below is the video of the shooting. As a warning, Mkhize’s video is graphic and shows an up-close depiction of the shooting.
The videographer could not tell how the event became so volatile so quickly. He told producer Natalie Armstrong, “As to why this group were running towards the police line I definitely can’t say.” The graphic imagery is a reminder of the brutality of the moment, the kind of violence many commentators say they haven’t seen since apartheid.
President Jacob Zuma announced that a commission would investigate the violence of the last two weeks in order to establish the chain of events. Thursday was also a national day of mourning. A memorial service was held near the Lonmin-owned platinum mine and 1,000 people were reported to have attended it.