Schlagwort-Archive: police

Ubuntu in Germany Column

Oscar is guilty of murder and so a worldwide chapter closes

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

The Oscar Pistorius trial has been intertwined in my life since it began – I posted on Facebook on Valentine’s Day 2013 saying crime drove him to it (not knowing the whole story), discussed it with colleagues while watching the trial live from a work laptop in Germany and listened to the first verdict while packing for South Africa. Now I am working in Johannesburg as the second verdict delivers true justice. Small world…

Oscar guilty

© Oscar Pistorius now found guilty of murder, as seen from South Africa.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

South African protests show a healthy democracy well worth investing in

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Germans have watched the South African recent public marches with interest and wondered, “What is going on? Is South Africa falling apart? Should I worry about investing there?” Being in the centre of the action, as a South African who recently returned from life in Germany, I can say that all the protest is a healthy sign of a thriving democracy growing in a barren global landscape.

EFFSmitStachowski

© Picture by Alexandra Smit-Stachowski: Recent protests in South Africa are healthy and show a thriving democracy. I took this picture balancing on a rubbish-bin while facing the EFF marchers, numbered at 40,000 who had just approached Sandton. The South African police kept a close watch.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

We are all African!

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

As attacks on fellow Africans continue here in South Africa, locals are voicing their upset by marching on the streets and collecting blankets and food for the displaced victims. Xenophobia is a difficult issue – neighbouring countries supported us during the Apartheid days and now must see how their citizens are being beaten to death by faceless angry mobs.

United Nations Photo

© Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski returned home at the end of 2014 to South Africa – the land of her birth. She is observing and commenting the current xenophobic attacks on foreigners from African countries – mainly in Durban. (Source: flickr/ United Nations Photo)

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

And the Oscar goes to….

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Valentine’s Day in 2013 dawned with the shocking news that the lithe, disabled sportsman, Oscar Pistorius had shot his blonde model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp dead while claiming he thought she was a robber out to hurt him. I wrote about the German media coverage at the time – now a year later, Europeans and ex-pats are glued to their TV sets or radios to keep up with the live trial.

Oscar radio Ubuntu

© Posed picture – In real-life I only listen to the live trial, while working frantically. Watching telly like this would be very dangerous for anybody during work hours! Totally impossible to watch and work – although it seems a few friends on Facebook are managing to do this.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

South Africa would have handled the NSU trial better

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Germany recently began the largest trial in its history post-WWII –the NSU trial, which is examining the murders of eight Turks, a Greek, a German policewoman and 15 bank robberies by a neo-Nazi gang over the period of seven years.

© National Socialist Underground (NSU) members Mundlos, Zschäpe and Böhnhardt. South Africa would have handled the NSU trial better, says Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Source: Bundeskriminalamt)

© National Socialist Underground (NSU) members Mundlos, Zschäpe and Böhnhardt. South Africa would have handled the NSU trial better, says Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Source: Bundeskriminalamt)

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Doggygate bites Zuma

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

President Jacob Zuma has caused a furore in South Africa after his speech in Impendle,  KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Midlands on Wednesday, where he spoke of people who loved dogs more than people as “having a lack of humanity”.

© President Jacob Zuma said that dogs are belonging to white culture. A new generation of young black Africans is trying to adopt white lifestyles. Black people should stop adopting the habits of other cultures, said Zuma. (flickr/ Jimmy Rehak)

© President Jacob Zuma said that dogs are belonging to white culture. A new generation of young black Africans is trying to adopt white lifestyles. Black people should stop adopting the habits of other cultures, said Zuma. (Source: flickr/ Jimmy Rehak)

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Exklusiv-Story: Ein Minenarbeiter packt aus

„Es muss so schnell wie möglich eine Lösung gefunden werden“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Akanyang Merementsi ist Minenarbeiter und Blogger aus der südafrikanischen Provinz North West. Er lebt in Rustenburg. Dem Ort, an welchem das “Massaker” gegen 34 Minenarbeiter begangen wurde. Er war bei den tragischen Ereignissen nicht dabei, kennt aber viele der Leute persönlich. Akanyang untermauert, dass die Arbeiter mehr Geld wollen. Hingegen fühlen sich viele Minenarbeiter nicht mehr durch die Minengewerkschaft NUM angemessen repräsentiert. Es wird vor Ort befürchtet, dass andere Minenarbeiter sich den Protesten in Marikana & Rustenburg anschließen könnten. Diese Solidaritätsbewegung befürwortete Julius Malema, der einstige ANC-Jugendliga-Präsident. Die unangenehme Situation der gegenwärtigen südafrikanischen Bergwerkindustrie erinnere an die 70/80er-Jahre. Einige Minenarbeiter sehen gar einen direkten Vergleich zwischem dem Marikana-Massaker 2012 und dem Sharpeville-Massaker von 1960. Akanyang beklagt, dass niemand die Verantwortung für die Geschehnisse tragen möchte. NUM und AMCU schieben sich gegenseitg die Schuld zu. Auch die Rolle der Polizei könne nicht abschließend bewertet werden. Offiziell hat die Polizeibehörde SAPS das Verhalten der Beamten als Selbstverteidigung deklariert. Die gegenwärtigen Untersuchungen – ausgehend von einer durch Präsident Zuma eingesetzten Kommission und die der polizeilichen Innenrevision „Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)“ – werden den tragischen Vorfällen auf den Grund gehen. Mittlerweile streiken nicht nur die Minenarbeiter, sondern auch deren Ehefrauen und die Lokalgemeinschaften. Auf die Frage hin, ob er Vergeltungsangriffe der Minenarbeiter auf die Polizei befürchte, konnte Akanyang keine Einschätzung dessen abgeben. Der Interviewte betont, dass eine Lösung so schnell wie möglich her muss. Grundsätzliche Entlassungen des Bergbaukonzerns Lonmin würden die bestehende Situation nur verschlimmern. Der gegenwärtige Ruf des Managements lässt sich auf die reine Profitgier reduzieren; die hart arbeitenden Minenarbeiter finden umso weniger Beachtung. Minenarbeiter verdienen mit 4.000 Rand zu wenig, damit es zum Leben ausreicht. Dieser Verdienst soll jedoch nach dem Willen der Belegschaft auf 5.000 bis 12.000 Rand angehoben werden – also eine Verdreifachung. Dabei handelt sich um die Minenarbeiter in vielen Fällen um sogenannte „Rock Drill Operators“, also unter Tage hart ackernde Bohrer. Die Arbeit der in Rivalität zueinander stehenden Minengewerkschaften NUM und AMCU bezeichnet der Minenarbeiter als „chaotisch“. Mittlerweile verliert NUM zunehmend mehr Mitglieder an AMCU.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – the Rustenburg miner Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, as a miner you are following the current developments in your home province North West very closely. How could this escalation happen?

Answer: Workers want money and they might go to whatever extent at their exposal to go and get it. At least there were not any destruction to (public) properties by strikers.

The fact that they felt leaderless – after apparently abandoning NUM because it no longer cared about their needs – may have contributed to what we have since the strike started on Aug 10.

From media reports coming live that area as I am far from it – it is likely that this will take longer. There are fears that other mine workers around the area will join in in „solidarity“ as they were advised by expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema on 18 Aug.

But it is doubtful if they would given the many dead bodies they had witnessed themselves as a result. Some are also suggesting that what happened at Lonmin’s Marikana operations is like to be witnessed at other mining operations not only around the Rustenburg but country wide. But that remains to be seen.

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some media are talking about a state of “civil war”. Are you sharing this view?

Answer: Some have called it a „massacre“ while others have, as you suggest, seen it as a „civil war“ not only between mine workers and their employers.

It is an unpleasant situation that was apparently last seen in the 70s and 80s – one situation many have since likened to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Who bears the blame for the situation?

Answer: There are finger pointing at the moment and no one seems to take responsibility for what happened especially among the unions as to what led to the strike in the first place.

Majority union at Lonmin, NUM, blames its rival, AMCU and the later denies its involvement in having made the strikers even angrier.

As for the shooting on Thursday, the police are yet to admit their actions were wrong. This as National Police Commission has repeatedly defended the police services‘ shooting at the strikers, saying their (police) lives were in danger and therefore they had acted in self-defence.

On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry which will try and get to bottom of what actually had transpired during the shooting. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is also said to have announced its own investigation that „will seek to establish if the police action was proportional to the threat posed by the miners“.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is the mood among the miners?

Answer: Media reports quote many miners saying they will continue to strike until their demands are met. Even their wives and local community women had joined in in solidarity, accusing the mine of not treating strikers like human beings. According to a Mail & Guardian Online report, the miners said they will regroup and have a meeting again on Aug 20.

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are you expecting revenge on the cops?

Answer: That is difficult to say. They may want to revenge because, say, their colleagues were killed for nothing except that they only wanted their wage demands met. So I can’t say with certainty as couldn’t the police whether the remaining miner workers would revenge their colleagues deaths or not.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do the miners of Lonmin fearing now a wave of mass layoffs?

Answer: There haven’t been any reports that there will be lay-off yet. I think what is important now is that a solution must be found as soon as possible, and if there are lay-off plans, those will be discussed at a later stage but now when over 50 people have just been shot at, with over 75 being wounded.

Any suggestions of lay-off now will not only be miscalculated but that it might escalate the situation to more than what had been seen in the mining industry. That would also reinforce the perception that the Lonmin management does not want to give salary increases because they are only looking at their profits and own pockets and not the hard working miners‘.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is a mine worker earning on average per month in South Africa?

Answer: It will be difficult to give an average of generally what mine workers earn. Remember just early this year the same category of workers had embarked on a strike at Impala demanding a take home of about R9000.00 because they claimed their take home of about R4000.00 was not enough. Now Lonmin’s Rock Drill Operators also reportedly want their take home to be increased from R4000 or R5000 to R12000.

Besides, you cannot get an average of how much miners earn because their categories of work are not the same.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are wage demands by 200 percent really justified?

Answer: Only they (Lonmin strikers) can say whether that is justified or not.

Importantly, no Lonmin/Impala or any other platinum mining company would operate without Rock Drill Operators – especially when we talk of production.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How do you evaluate the work of trade unions NUM and AMCU?

Answer: Their status are in shambles.

NUM is gradually losing membership to AMCU and the latter seems to be dominating – but without the bargaining power at Lonmin – and gradually taking over the mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Thank you very much for this interview. Hope the mining sector in South Africa will get ASAP a sufficient solution on this crisis.