South African President, Jacob Zuma
A survivor of last month's police killing of 34 strikers at a South African mine says officers shot fleeing and surrendering men beyond the eyes of the media, challenging police assertions that they fired only in self-defense.
The testimony of Malusi King Danga, a 27-year-old general worker at Lonmin's Marikana mine, sheds light on shootings on a rocky outcrop near the platinum mine on August 16, reports Reuters.
Reuters Television footage of one incident showed nearly a dozen striking miners being cut down in a barrage of automatic weapon fire as they emerged from behind a police vehicle.
The images, relayed around the world, conjured up memories of South Africa's racist past. However, most of the deaths at Marikana, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, occurred away from the cameras.
Danga was able to tell his story only after being released from three weeks in jail on Thursday. His testimony to Reuters suggests that at least three victims were shot either hiding or fleeing from police, or surrendering to them.
Police spokesman, Dennis Adriao said he could not comment, pending the outcome of a government inquiry. However, Danga's allegations are likely to deepen public anger with the security forces and the ruling African National Congress.
Danga, who left his home five years ago in the impoverished Eastern Cape in search of work, said the shooting began after strikers who had gathered on a rocky hill that served as rally point fled police who were trying to hem them in.
"It was my first day on the hill. I was expecting the employer to address us. I was there for about five minutes and police started putting up the razor wire," he said, speaking before and after a traditional cleansing ceremony close to the scene of the "Marikana massacre".
"People starting running and police fired a shot. I was running away to the informal settlement in the opposite direction and police chased me and said 'Go back to where you came from.' I ran back towards a second hill, a small hill."
"I was so desperate. I didn't know where to go. Police circled the boulders. I ran up and down trying to escape, to take another route. We were trapped. I crouched and hid myself under one of the rocks," he said.