3 000 mineworkers gather at Implats

2012-02-17 16:02
Johannesburg - A group of about 3 000 striking mineworkers gathered outside Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine ahead of a protest march on Friday, North West police said.

"The situation is calm at the moment," said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.

"The miners are still gathering but we [police] are monitoring them."

On Thursday, the situation at the mine was hostile and tense, and more than 100 mineworkers were arrested after violent protests.

Ngubane said 500 police officers had secured the mine and succeeded in containing the violence.

No permission


The miners intended marching to the king of the Royal Bafokeng nation Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi's home to hand over a memorandum. Molotlegi has shares in Impala Platinum.

Ngubane said the mineworkers did not have permission to march.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the union was aware that people had gathered at the mine but did not know why they were doing so.

The union would meet management on Friday to try and broker a deal.

"We will engage with Impala later today to find a resolution to the crisis," said Seshoka.

Impala Platinum was not immediately available for comment.

The protests began in Phokeng on Thursday, with mineworkers apparently intimidating and assaulting people trying to get to and from work in the township outside Rustenburg.

Crowd control

They barricaded roads heading towards Freedom Park and threw stones at cars and looted shops. The crowd also torched a satellite police station in Freedom Park.

Ngubane said police were not allowed to use rubber bullets to control the crowd following a directive from the police ministry last year.

This was because of concern over the high number of injuries and at least one death associated with the use of rubber bullets for crowd control.

The mineworkers were fired after a dispute over a retention bonus and an illegal strike.

The first to be dismissed were about 5 000 rock drillers after they refused to accept they would not get the bonus and went on an illegal strike.

The rest of the over 17 000 workers were later fired for not being at work.

Impala said it had lost production of 60 000 troy ounces (1 866kg) since the start of the strike almost a month ago.

Read more on:    num  |  impala platinum  |  mahikeng  |  protests  |  mining

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