Kono Killings…Another Display of Police Unprofessionalism
The establishment of mining companies in Sierra Leone has been accompanied by a wave of violent protests, often resulting in deaths and injuries and it appears that the SLP responsible for protecting the lives of citizens are now the very ones destroying such lives.
Sometime ago, unprofessional police officer massacred harmless and peaceful protesters at Bumbuna. The Human Rights Commission in it probity report vehemently condemned the disproportionate use of force by the SLP. The SLP later apologised and compensated victims. The protesters were proven right when the African Minerals Limited (AML) also compensated them with a 400% pay increment.
Now the SLP has again manifested gross unprofessionalism by firing live bullets against protesters allegedly killing two and injuring five. The Kono incident clearly points to the unpleasant fact that the SLP is not well trained in handling riotous situation. In as much as I condemn the violent protest of the aggrieved workers of the Ocetea Group of Companies formerly (Koidu Holdings Limited) who were agitating for their bonus yet the manner in which the police responded to the situation clearly depicts unprofessionalism.
What puzzles me most is the question of how a so- called well trained police officer can allow armless protesters to disarm him. I hereby recommend the instant dismissal of that officer for exhibiting gross recklessness. The incident also points at the existing acrimony between the civil populace and the SLP.
The disaster is said to have emanated from a heated quarrel between the workers and the company management over payment of accrued bonus, which the company reportedly failed to pay thus provoking sit-down-strike.
The situation exploded when the striking workers realised that the Ministers of Mines and Labour were having a closed door meeting with the company management without their inclusion.
The Octea Group of Companies is known to be exporting one of the world’s best quality kimberlite diamonds with an average of millions of dollars per year. How can such a company fail to match-up the task of paying their workers the bonus they deserve? In my opinion the workers’ action is justifiable as it is a way of pressurizing the company management to yield to their demands.
I am also firmly convinced that the visiting Ministers of Mines and Labour contributed greatly to blow the situation out of proportion by openly taking a bias stance thereby provoking the wrath of the already disgruntled workers.
It could have been wiser if the two Ministers had engaged both parties in the close door meeting. After-all the Ministers owe more obligation to the people of this country than to the company’s management. Perhaps their visit had some ulterior commercial consideration that was why the focused was more on the Company management than aggrieved workers.
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