Marikana shows we need respect for the law
The mining strike has finally ended with a wage offer satisfactory to the unions and miners in Lonmin.
The highest paid miner now makes just over R13 000.
It took 5 weeks, 45 lives and major losses for the mining industry and the country.
I've been waiting for the right moment to say my bit on the matter, especially because I have wavered from sympathy for the miners, to support for the police service.
I'm sure there isn't a single South African who is at least aware of the situation, who doesn't have an opinion of some sort on the matter.
I understand where the miners are coming from. They are hard-working contributors to the country's economy and deserve good remuneration.
They risk their lives to make major profits for the mines so they should be the last people to cry poverty when they drill the country's wealth out of the ground.
I am of the opinion however that their right to strike does not supersede the responsibility we all have in South Africa to respect the law first.
There is a thin line between conducting a legal strike and getting lost in the moment and acting like hooligans when the excitement heightens. It takes the shortest moment and lapse in judgement to do something you can't turn back from.
There is general distrust and disrespect in the country for our police service. It is sadly true that a shameful number of police officers are an embarrassment to the service.
But that is no excuse for us to think that we live in a country where it is okay to approach the police in a violent manner, pangas, hand guns and all. The SAPS uniform alone should command some respect from the man on the street.
The sheer number of the protesters that stampeded towards the police on the fateful day when 34 people were subsequently shot and killed by police, and 78 more were injured, was enough to make my head spin.
If I was standing on the defensive side of that swarm, you better believe I would defend myself. Instinct first, cop second.
The police go through training in preparation for times like these, or they are supposed to. No amount of training numbs one to do what naturally comes to mind in defence of their very lives. And I'm almost certain the police acted within their authority and right to protect themselves, as extreme as their actions may be deemed.
I would be on the other side of the argument if the tables were turned. The police were not the aggressors in this instance, but rather looked vulnerable while shielding themselves behind their vehicles.
If the cops had stalked and attacked the crowd, instead of it being the other way around, then we should go ahead with the inquest to see who was at fault and responsible.
But please don't sell me the sympathy card as if the miners didn't get this party started.