Big story you missed: South Africa

South Africa has decided that the persecuted are the persecutors

By Prachi Gupta
Published August 30, 2012 9:28PM (EDT)

South African laborers are being charged in the deaths of 34 their own, even though it was police who fired into the crowd of 3,000. The New York Times reports:

Using an obscure legal doctrine frequently relied upon by the apartheid government in its dying days, prosecutors did not accuse the police officers who shot and killed the strikers as they surged forward, machetes in hand. Instead, officials said Thursday that they were pursuing murder charges against the 270 miners who were arrested after the dust settled and the shooting stopped.

Lawyers, who believe the charges "are absurd," are doubtful that they will hold in court--but regardless of the verdict, the tragedy and subsequent accusations have damaged the morale of a country that is still recovering from apartheid:

It was the latest and perhaps most bizarre turn in a saga that has gripped South Africa, unleashing a torrent of rage over deepening inequality, poverty and unemployment. The shootings have fed a growing sense of betrayal at the country’s governing party, the venerable African National Congress, many of whose senior members have joined a wealthy elite a world away from the downtrodden masses whose votes brought them to power at the end of apartheid in 1994. Now the prosecutors’ decision to charge the miners in the killings threatened to intensify that rift.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Big Story You Missed Labor South Africa