In an unusual move South African prosecutors are charging with murder, not any of those who killed 34 people by shooting into a crowd of striking miners, but rather some from among the crowd they fired on:
Two weeks after the police opened fire on a crowd of 3,000 workers engaged in a wildcat strike at a platinum mine near Johannesburg, killing 34 people in the bloodiest labor unrest since the end of apartheid, prosecutors are bringing murder charges against a surprising set of suspects: the miners themselves.
Using an obscure legal doctrine frequently relied upon by the apartheid government in its dying days, prosecutors did not accuse the police officers who shot and killed the strikers as they surged forward, machetes in hand. Instead, officials said Thursday that they were pursuing murder charges against the 270 miners who were arrested after the dust settled and the shooting stopped.
Did I say 'unusual'? Yes, I did. What kind of legal or moral thinking is it that shifts the primary responsibility for a mass killing on to people who plainly didn't commit it? Well, I'd better not comment on the legal aspect of the situation; I don't have the expertise. But so far as the moral aspect is concerned, the shifting of responsibility in this way is - come to think of it - entirely familiar from the last decade or so, for readers of the British liberal press and those tuned in to a certain segment of the left. Whether or not South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority know these sources, I couldn't say.