Bring it on, Lonmin miners tell Radebe

2012-09-15 08:14
Jeff Radebe. (File, Sapa)

Jeff Radebe. (File, Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Protesting Lonmin mineworkers in Rustenburg plan to defy government's warning and continue with their unprotected strike which has crippled the mining sector.

“We have heard [Justice Minister] Jeff Radebe is going to send his police here because he says our gatherings are illegal," said a worker addressing the protesters on Friday afternoon.

"You must know that on Monday you should be ready for Jeff Radebe and his police to come and do what they normally do to us.”

The man was one of several workers who stood up and addressed a thousand-strong crowd in Marikana at sunset.

"When cows are being killed we hear the SPCA complaining about it, but because we are puppies, no one stands for us. He is coming to kill the animals," said the speaker.

In response the crowd shouted "bring it on" in IsiZulu and Sotho.

Workers had gathered near the hill - where 34 of their colleagues were gunned down by police on 16 August - for progress reports on wage negotiations.

Earlier on Friday, Radebe told journalists in Pretoria that government will no longer tolerate the violence, threats and intimidation taking place in the mining sector.

He announced that measures would be put in place to ensure the mining situation was brought under control.

These included that "illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, and incitement, as well as threats of violence against anyone in the affected areas, will be dealt with accordingly".

Stun grenades

Loyiso Mtsheketshe, another striking leader, told the crowd on Friday to converge again on Saturday in defiance of Radebe’s remarks.

“These things being spoken about in televisions and radios about Jeff Radebe, they will not make us change anything. Tomorrow, you [protesters] are going to report to me in the morning.

"We want them to see that we are here, we are not deterred. They have made me angry now, tomorrow we are going to meet here again."

Within hours of Radebe’s remarks, seven people were arrested by police outside Aquarius Platinum in Rustenburg.

A group of protesters had marched from Anglo American Platinum's (Amplats) Bleskop stadium to Aquarius Platinum and demanded that it close.

Mametlwe Sebei, leader of a group which has called itself the Democratic Socialist Movement, told the protesters that all mines in Rustenburg must come to a halt next week.

Sebei said protests were continuing to close all mines in the area and named Samancor, Xstrata, Murray & Roberts, Implats and Amandelbult.

They gave the company 15 minutes to respond. Shortly after police were seen chasing after protesters.

A police helicopter cornered one of the protesters, who was also being chased by policemen on the ground, and then arrested him. Stun grenades were fired and protesters ran off, clearing the area quickly.

Aquarius, the third platinum mine to be affected, announced that it would suspend operations for the weekend and hoped to recommence on Sunday.

- SAPA

Read more on:    amplats  |  jeff radebe  |  politics  |  labour  |  mining unrest
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