The Lonmin Shooting
The Lonmin shooting: misinformation and over sensationalism of social media
By Phathu Makwarela
When a tragedy happens in society, we all look for someone to blame, be it an individual or an organization. In the midst of our anger and confusion, we suspend our ability to make a clear judgement as we want to satisfy our rage and thirst for retribution. The truth gets lost in the midst of all the chaos and commotion. When James Eagan Holmes opened fire at Aurora’s Century movie theatre and killed 12 people, injuring 58 on 20 July this year, rage swept through America as everyone blamed the gun control laws, not the gunman.
Thursday afternoon, a national tragedy happened in Lonmin. A yet “unconfirmed” number of miners were killed when police officers opened fire. I use the words “unconfirmed” because there have just been too many numbers thrown around to feed the hysteria.
On twitter, South Africans were up in arms, anger and blame was directed at the police officers. It was marked as the worst police brutality in years.
Twitter thrives in miscommunication and misinformation; producing a huge uproar generated by mere sound-bites of what actually happened, and not the truth.
Before we vilify the police, let’s get some of the facts:
According to Aljazeera Network and Reuters News Agency, the most credible sources of news, the strike started on 10 August, over pay disputes. On Sunday, the miners KILLED two security guards. On Monday the miners KILLED two other miners and two police officers. You can see the miners are not the victims that retweets have made them out to be.
On Monday the police retaliated by opening fire and killing three miners. If you were relying on social media, these are some of the facts one could have missed – you end up with stirred up emotions and rage towards police officers, but without facts.
For instance, a few days ago TV presenter Kuli Roberts retweeted a tweet about the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – the iron lady is very much alive.
By Phathu Makwarela