Rubber bullets, tear gas used to disperse Amplats protesters

2012-09-19 10:59

Police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a group of people gathered near Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Rustenburg, according to a spokesperson.

“Police dispersed people trying to gather illegally. As we have said, we are not tolerating any illegal gatherings,” said Captain Dennis Adriao.

“Police used tear gas and stun grenades, and rubber bullets were used at the (nearby) squatter camp.”

Amplats’ spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said: “I can confirm that (the police have) dispersed a group of people gathering illegally at Sondela informal settlement.

“We do not know why the people were gathered and cannot confirm if they are our employees. As reported yesterday, our mines are operational?...”

Small groups of people stood under umbrellas in the area after the police intervention today.
They said police left with a “truckload” of men.

They said they were attending a meeting when the police “just came” and they were shot at with rubber bullets.

They ran into the informal settlement and rubber bullets were fired at them from a helicopter.

At the company’s Jabula shaft, about 10 police vans, vehicles and water cannons were parked.

At Sondela settlement, worker Pula Thebe said they had been meeting to discuss the way forward after receiving an SMS that they were expected back at work today.

Thebe said they were worried about what would happen to their houses while they were on night-shift if they did go back to work.

Last week, government ministers in Cabinet’s security cluster said the government would no longer tolerate violence, threats and intimidation taking place in the mining sector, as massive strikes sprang up along Rustenburg’s platinum belt, with another one near Carletonville.

The measures included a crackdown on illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, incitement, and threats of violence against anyone in the affected areas.

After suspending operations last week, citing employee safety due to the situation in the region, Amplats resumed operations yesterday.

Workers were paid over the suspension period, and praised the company for this.

On Friday, during the operations suspension, they marched to the company’s Bleskop stadium and decided that they also wanted a salary increase.

Unlike their mining colleagues at other operations, who were seeking R12 500, they said they wanted R16 070 and other modifications to their fringe benefits.

Sithole said Amplats was making every effort to reassure employees that it was safe to return to work.

It wanted everyone back by today and, beyond that, would have to “initiate appropriate employee relations procedures” for those who had not returned.

The company’s operations were already under pressure and further delays would increase the risk to the long-term viability of the mines.

Explaining the reason for the police action, Adriao said that for large groups of people to gather, in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, they had to give notice to the local municipality for the gathering to take place.

Section four set out certain conditions for the gathering.

“Police need to be present, emergency services need to be on standby, marshals present the whole day. Water points need to be established,” he said.

The relevant municipality in this case was Rustenburg.

Further details were not immediately available, but SAfm reported that mineworkers near Jabula and Thembelani mine had been arrested and that the gathering was related to an unprotected pay strike.

Last night a lengthy strike at nearby Lonmin ended with a wage agreement.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.