Lonmin Marikana mine clashes: South Africans react

A local women cries as she confronts a police officer during a protest against the killing of miners by South African police
Image caption Unions are demanding an inquiry into the incident - one of the bloodiest police operations since apartheid

Thirty-four people were killed after police opened fire on striking miners at a mine in Marikana in the north east of South Africa, a police chief has said.

Here people in South Africa share their views on Thursday's incident.

Serge Tachini, 39, Johannesburg

Loss of life is always regrettable. I sympathise with the miners regarding the wage issue.

But I must say that there is no need to go on strike with sticks and machetes.

They must understand that the police is not their enemy. The police were there to restore order and keep the peace while the two unions which were negotiating with the mining company.

There is a mixed reaction from people here to the incident. Many say the police have the right to defend themselves. It seems that these days people don't respect the police.

An investigation should be opened to find what really happened and to why the two cops were killed in an earlier incident.

Wayne Pringle, 50, Matatiele, Eastern Cape

I was a section leader in a detachment with the South African Defence Force in the 1980s when we were charged by a group of people armed very much the same as the workers at the mine.

At the time we were mounted in vehicles and were able to withdraw with no casualties. The effect however of this charge still stays with me.

From what was seen yesterday, I feel the police were not controlling the situation. This is due to a lack of training of the lower-level police and therefore of the upper echelon as well.

They should never have got into a situation that they are unable to extricate themselves from. To put police into a situation where there is little chance of withdrawal will only lead to this result.

The events in Marikana are a bit of a shock. The president should be heading to the area to do something.

Arnold Seshibe, 23, Pretoria

This incident reminds me of the apartheid-era South Africa. There is no sense in shooting people who don't have guns. Are we going back to the days of the Sharpeville massacre?

A rubber bullet is enough to stop someone who attacks you with a machete.

As for the miners - they have a legal right to strike. It's not like they were causing trouble outside a police station.

It's a very sad situation.

The police need training so they don't act in the same way in a similar situation in the future.

Werner Fischer, 49, Johannesburg

I'm really upset by the incident. The footage looks like something from Libya or another civil war zone. It's unbelievable.

The Lonmin disaster is a sad continuation of the story of frustrated and unhappy South Africans.

I moved here from Switzerland 11 years ago and there are many opportunities in South Africa. But many younger people don't have access to opportunities because of substandard public schooling.

So many things are blatantly wrong in this country. After more than 18 years in power, the ANC can't continue to blame apartheid as the root cause. They have created an exclusive society and if you are not properly connected, you are actually worse off.

Many of us wonder when these sparks will trigger an Arab Spring-style revolt in the country.

Lillina Ruiters, 18, Grahamstown

This atrocious and outrageous violence is symptomatic of the relationship that has been developing between protesters and the police over the last two years.

There have been violent outbreaks and confrontations with the police continually.

It is no longer possible for the media to portray these as "isolated events".

South African people are angry and tired of the inequality that is so rife in our country.

It is heart-breaking to see our country being so brutally torn apart in a manner strikingly reminiscent of the apartheid days.

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