South Africa’s police were forced to open fire on striking miners with live rounds because they were charged by armed men and compelled to “defend themselves”, the national police chief said on Friday.
Riah Phiyega said that 34 miners were killed on Thursday and another 78 wounded when her officers used “maximum force” near Marikana mine, owned by Lonmin, the London-listed company.
They did so when a gang of “heavily armed” miners rushed towards them, armed with firearms as well as clubs and machetes. “Police retreated and were forced to use maximum force to defend themselves,” said Ms Phiyega.
South Africans have been appalled by the violence, which summons memories of the apartheid era and has been compared with the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. But Ms Phiyega said: “This is no time for blaming, this is no time for finger-pointing. This is a time for us to mourn the sad and dark moment that we experienced as a country.
President Jacob Zuma has left a summit of African leaders and travelled back to South Africa.
CONTINUED at The Telegraph.