Violence erupted soon after a strike of over 300 miners opting for a pay increase began. The South African miners demanded the pay increase on August 10 (Mosbergen). Just six days later, after ten people had already been killed (including police), police opened fire on the crowd (Mosbergen). The shooting resulted in the deaths of 34 miners as well as injuring at least 78 more (Mosbergen). While the police claim to have acted out of self-defense, an examination of the deceased shows that many had been shot in the back, suggesting that they were attempting to flee from the gunfire (Mosbergen). The remaining miners were arrested at the scene (about 270) and charged with the murder of the 34 miners who were shot and killed (Mosbergen). Supposedly, those accused are being tried under the “common purpose doctrine” since they were all a part of the crowd that confronted police (Mosbergen).
The decision to charge the miners with the murder has become a very controversial subject since the murders were actually committed by the police and not the miners. Although I chose this story to coincide with my topic of choice, crime, it actually represents many deep-rooted global issues such as poverty and inequality. At the time of the strike, a miner’s monthly income equaled only about $650 (Mosbergen). With an annual income of only $7,800, these miners are at the bottom of the totem pole. In an attempt to improve their quality of life by demanding a higher income, these miners ended up facing murder charges. Wages and incomes are an ongoing topic throughout the world because they are a major determinant in an individual’s overall quality of life. In fact, income is so important that it influences people, like the miners, to commit crimes and hold strikes. Amidst the strikes, “two police officers were battered to death by strikers and two mine security guards burned alive when their vehicle was set ablaze” (Mosbergen). Would this type of behavior have occurred if the miners were making annual incomes of six digits or more? Probably not. Therefore, poverty and inequality influences many people to commit crimes, such as beating a police officer to death.
Mosbergen, Dominique. "South Africa Miners Charged With The Murder of 34 Colleagues Shot By Police". The Huffington Post. 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/south-africa-miners-charged_n_1843199.html?utm_hp_ref=world#slide=more245427