There are all sorts of speculation as to why the shooting took place, who fired first, was it provoked, et cetera, but the primary reason seems to be that there is a new union trying to make its presence felt. This new union is supposedly an off-shoot of the existing National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and is apparently not happy with the passive way the NUM handles its members' grievances or interests.
Personally, I think that's a crock of shit and is just propaganda, with the new union trying to create a membership base. The underlying reasons for the massacre (as it was called on Sky News) will be political, but it is unlikely that this will ever be brought to light. It is well-known that the black population as a whole are not happy at the lack of "progress" since the inept ANC took over, almost 20 years ago now and this new union is trying to use this to its advantage.
The upper management (note I didn't say "leadership") of most organisations in the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) space, are very politically- and power-driven, doing whatever they can to progress their own agendas, even, in extreme cases, at the expense of their own employees' or members' lives. Basically, the power-hungry have not moved out of the 15th century, believing they can still rule, and progress, by fear and death.
What Dingaan and Shaka did in their time was simple. You fucked with them, they killed you. End of story. Today's black management does not think much differently, except that they will get someone else to do their dirty work for them. Even the SAPS, so that the managers can be seen to be squeaky clean and can continue their political rhetoric, unharmed by the bullets killing their members, accusing the government agencies of sticking to apartheid means. Playing to the listening ears of the majority vote. Playing to long memories.
The other thing that contributes to the death toll of these people is the fact that they are still allowed to carry "traditional weapons" around with them. Assegais, pangas, shields, knives, knobkieries, you name it. It forms part of the list of "traditional weapons". And do they really think that the SAPS are going to retaliate with the same weaponry? Are they fuck. Automatic rifles are the weapon of choice for the SAPS...and so it should be.
Imagine 3,000 people, armed to the teeth (yes, including some with illegal guns that were hidden from view earlier), charging at you and your mates down a hill in a cloud of dust. As a SAPS officer, are you going to (a) run away and maybe get caught in the stampede, have your weapon stolen and face the wrath of the SAPS, or (b) shoot to kill, following the orders of your commanding officer and self-preservation? I know I would empty my magazine into the first fucker that came near me with a panga.
On the bigger picture side, it's time this country, and Africa in general, got out of the "victim" mindset that it's in and has been since Imperialism died. Stop blaming old systems and idealisms for the current failures it has created for itself. Take responsibility and accountability seriously. For fuck sake, half the world was colonised at some point or other by a European nation, but you don't hear South American countries complaining, do you? And look at Germany and Japan following the second world war...they pulled themselves out of the shit they had created for themselves, rebuilt their nations into the global economic powerhouses they are today. Yes, they had problems, but they sorted them out and didn't victimise themselves. Unlike Africa, which will always be victimised by itself. "Oh, poor me. Help me", you can hear it cry out. Fuck off, I say, and help yourself. For a change. For the better of everyone on the continent and the world.