22 arrested outside Amplats

2012-09-19 16:05
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Police spokesperson Dennis Adriao said on Wednesday that police had arrested 22 people near Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Rustenburg after using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a gathering.  Four of them were arrested for being in possession of dangerous weapons.

The others have been charged for an illegal gathering and public violence.

"One person was taken to hospital who complained about shortness of breath."

Adriao said medics attended to the man and he was taken to hospital for a check-up.

"We still have a high visibility and presence on the ground.

"At the moment, reports from the ground state that everything is calm."

Amplats spokesperson Mphumi Sithole said she had been unaware of further police action beyond this morning (Wednesday).

"Operations have resumed as we have announced, but many mining employees are still to return to work.

"We are unable to confirm the turnout numbers at this point."

Sithole said the company could not confirm whether those arrested on Wednesday morning were Amplats employees.

Small groups of people stood under umbrellas in the area after the police action.

They said police left with a "truckload" of men.

They said they had been 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.

About 10 police vans, vehicles and water cannon were parked at the company's Jabula shaft.

Salary increase

Government ministers in Cabinet's security cluster said last week that the government would no longer tolerate violence, threats, and intimidation 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, carrying 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 on Tuesday.

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

On Friday, during the operational suspension, they marched to the company's Bleskop stadium and decided 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 earlier that Amplats was making every effort to reassure employees that it was safe to return to work.

It wanted everyone back by Wednesday, 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.

A lengthy strike at nearby Lonmin ended with a wage agreement on Tuesday.

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Read more on:    amplats  |  johannesburg  |  protests  |  mining unrest  |  mining

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