Johannesburg - The violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West was similar to the Sharpeville and Soweto shootings, the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) said in a statement on Thursday.
“As Azapo, we can only describe the situation as a massacre not different from March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville; June 16, 1976, in Soweto and June 17, 1992, in Boipatong,” the party said.
“It was the police that killed Andries Tatane, a protester who was demanding better services from government. Today police kill miners who are protesting for better working conditions and better remuneration.”
The party was saddened and angered by the deaths of miners on Thursday.
Azapo called for the immediate suspension of all police who were at the scene and called for an immediate criminal investigation by an independent international body.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) should not be involved.
“We further call on members of families concerned to charge the state president, minister of police, and the commissioner of police for murder, in terms of vicarious liability,” the party said.
Azapo said that with the National Party being held liable for murders committed during apartheid, the same should be true of the current government.
Chanting could be heard from an informal settlement near the mine on Thursday evening, after the shooting left at least 18 people dead or wounded.
It was not clear if the group, who were singing liberation songs, were armed, but police were keeping watch.
The shooting erupted when police sought to disperse armed, striking workers who had gathered on a hill, in the area that had already seen 10 deaths in violent protests the past week.
It was not immediately clear who fired the first shots.
Police were not immediately available to comment on the number of dead and wounded in Thursday's shooting.
An uneasy calm returned to the mine area on Thursday evening as paramedics attended to those who were hit. - Sapa