Teargas and rubber bullets again in Marikana | | Al Jazeera

Teargas and rubber bullets again in Marikana

Fear is in the air as striking miners brace themselves up for the police to return after a day of renewed clashes.

by

    We had a feeling something was going to happen on Saturday. 

    That's why  I and my news team left Johannesburg at 6am South African time to try and be in Marikana by 8am. 

    We arrive just in time. 

    Two armoured police vehicles are parked in the distance. Some striking miners have defied a government order not to gather, carry weapons or incite violence. 

    They are singing anti-government songs and some are carrying weapons and sticks. 

    Then four more police vehicles arrive and things get tense. 

    Officers tell striking workers to hand over their weapons and go home. They are wearing riot gear and look ready for battle. 

    Some protesters do as they are told, but many refuse. A few journalists are standing near the miners. We always watching our backs just incase things turn suddenly nasty. 

    A man trying to keep warm under a pink blanket moves slightly. We see he has a gun under the blanket and we slowly move away. 

    When he realises we know he has an illegal firearm, he disappears. 

    I don't think the police have seen him. 

    Suddenly the police warn the journalists to get out of the way. That's when we know they are about to fire. 

    But there isn't much time to move tear gas, rubber bullets and water canons are used and the crowd scatters. 

    I try to dodge the rubber bullets but walk right into tear gas. It's a horrible feeling. My ears hurt, I am choking and can't seem to stop coughing. I manage to get behind one of the police cars for safety. It also gives me a chance to catch my breath. 

    A woman who was watching from the safety of her shack later offers me some water. I gladly accept even though I feel a little embarrassed I couldn't deal with a little tear gas. 

    She looks like she is in her 50s. She asks me why I do the job I do and she advises me to go home. 

    There are running battles for a few more hours on Saturday until about 2pm. 

    Then things go eerily quiet...too quiet. Some miners are worried. 

    They think the police will return when it gets dark. They know once the journalists with the cameras leave, there will be no one to record what happens. 

    But we can't stay out here at night. We know some miners are armed, and a few days ago a man was hacked to death with a machete. 

    As we drive out at dusk, we see people trying to block the roads. Its their way of stopping the police from coming in. 

    We will only know on Sunday morning if their blockades worked.


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