The whole world watched with horror the events in Marikana, South Africa and even worse, the manner in which the police defended their actions ultimately including the arrest and charging of some of the striking mine workers.
South Africa is not alone in these twisted perceptions of the morality of state monopoly of violence. Kenya is witnessing the re-awakening of a state-centric oxymoronic violent morality. In the last few weeks, after a High Court decision declared illegal the proscription of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), this separatist movement, misguidedly revived and threatened to disrupt national school leaving exams among other separatist acts. A police crackdown ensued, culminating on 15 October 2012 with the arrest of 38 persons at the house of the MRC Chairman, Omar Mwamnuadzi. Two people were killed, a gun and 15 rounds of ammunition recovered together with several petrol bombs, including one that was hurled at the officers conducting the raid.
Author: Prof Christof Heyns
Professor of Human Rights Law; Co-director, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria; United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Many lives have recently been lost in Africa, as in other parts of the world, when demonstrations have turned fatally violent. This has been clearly seen inthe countries of the so-called Arab Spring, but numerous Sub-Saharan countries – Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Malawi and South Africa come to mind – have also experienced violent and indeed deadly marches.
These demonstrations reveal the need to bring the legal and policy regimes that govern such expressions of popular opinion into line with human rights standards.