Police reinforcements sent to volatile mine

2012-08-13 22:25
Police (File, AP)

Police (File, AP)

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Cape Town - Police reinforcements were on Monday sent to a volatile North West mine where two officers and seven workers were killed after an initial protest spiralled into violence involving rival unions.

A police spokesperson in Marikana, where platinum producer Lonmin's mine is situated, said that additional members from the Pretoria crime prevention unit and others from Gauteng have been deployed to bolster numbers on the ground.

The spokesperson said that the police were still on scene, and that the situation was "under control" at present.

But, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), reportedly one of the unions involved in the clashes (along with Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union), has called for police to do more to quell the unrest, or even have the army called in.

"[We are] alarmed at that the escalating violence has been allowed to continue unabated by the law enforcement agencies in that area in North West Province," said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.

"We call for the deployment of a special task force or the SANDF to deal decisively with the criminal elements in Rustenburg and its surrounding mine."

Blame game

According to reports NUM and AMCU were fighting for control of local mines, but Baleni dismissed statements saying that it was rivalry attacks, and said the NUM was a victim of AMCU, denying involvement in the killings, Sapa reported.

"We don't know who these people are," he said.

The AMCU, however, claims that NUM is responsible for the violence, saying it was a trend of the union that when it lost membership, it brought violence and threw people into disarray.

"It's totally incorrect that they [NUM] have been victims. They are the perpetrators of this violence," said AMCU vice president Jeff Mthahmeme.

"Four of our members on Saturday were shot at, and two of them have since died."

In February, the two unions also clashed over membership at Impala Platinum's mines in Rustenburg, after a stoppage that also started with an illegal strike by rock drillers.

Illegal protest

The violence at the Marikana mine began on Friday following an illegal work stoppage and protest march by about 3 000 Lonmin rock drill operators.

Since then, nine people have been killed.

On Saturday, two security guards were killed when the car they were travelling in was set alight.

Another man died in hospital on Sunday after being hacked with a panga as he left the mine after the evening shift.

Earlier on Monday, the body of a man was found on the mine premises. He had been shot dead, and police believe the murder was linked to the violence.

Police said that three other protesters were shot dead, while two police officers were hacked to death, and another officer was critically injured.

"Our police officers were responding to a protest at the mine. They came under attack from the workers and two of them were hacked to death," said police spokesperson Lindela Mashego.

Scores of other people have been injured in the violent unrest in the last four days.

Police also reported that eight vehicles were torched on the mine property on Sunday.

Read more on:    police  |  amcu  |  num  |  mahikeng  |  labour

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