The death of 34 rioting miners killed by police at a Lonmin mine in Marikana South Africa is in stark contrast to the 17 police injured by rioting youths at Amiens in northern France.
The South African police say that their response was in self defense, yet only one officer sustained minor injuries. Video footage reveals a panicked response, with the police firing live rounds at the onrushing crowd. The police in Amiens were armed with non-lethal rubber bullets.
Ultimately, if anyone is held accountable for the deaths, it will probably be the police officers who fired the shots. But this is really an issue of poor preparation and inadequate training exacerbated by bad management. Besides those who fired the bullets, senior government officials are also responsible should be held accountable.
One of the reasons Senegal elections this year were peaceful, disproving predictions ofviolence, is the police’s professional handling of the pre-election demonstrations. This was very different their poor handling of the demonstrations only months earlier, when voters objected to President Wade’s attempt to change the constitution.
The Senegalese police’s interim training paid dividends as they showed discipline and order in the face of clear provocation. Conflict was avoided, resulting in a smooth transition of power.
South Africa deserves better, and that will only start when the people in power start being held accountable for the deaths that they cause.