‘Black lives remain cheap,’ says Saftu after Philippi mass killing

Johannesburg – The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has on Sunday called for urgent action to end violence in the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi. 

This after eleven people were killed on Friday evening during a mass shooting in the area.

“The psychological damage this is causing is unimaginable," the federation said in a statement.

"People are dying like flies and children are being exposed to horrific levels of violence, which will affect their psychological make-up and suck them into gang warfare as a way of life,” it said.  

The federation said on Thursday, its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi visited the area to address the Social Justice Network Coalition conference on safety. 

Vavi and other leaders of social justice network met with members of the community.

“These communities related horror stories of violence and counter-violence that maims innocent lives on a daily basis.

“The children in these communities jump on dead bodies on their door steps and they are strewn all over the streets on the way to school." 

'Black lives matter'

The federation said the informal settlement had no infrastructure, no roads and no streetlights.

It also accused SAPS of not going into the township at night, “fearing that they too will be the victims”.

It said the country had “terrible culture of violence” that needed to be eradicated. 

The area falls under the policing cluster of Nyanga, which is dubbed the "crime capital" of South Africa because of its high rate of murder.

“The reality is that black lives remain cheap 23 years into democracy. Saftu maintains that black lives matter including those from the poor marginalised communities,” the federation said.

Marikana has been singled out as an area very difficult to police because of the densely packed shacks where police vehicles cannot enter, and there is no lighting. 

Officers are said to have received reports of shootings in the settlement around 19:30 on Friday.

On arrival, police were confronted with scenes of four people shot dead inside a tavern, three inside a shack nearby, one outside the shack and two others lying dead between the shacks in the area.

Another victim died in hospital.

Sources at the scene said that at least three other people who were shot survived.