Cops disperse miners' march

2012-09-16 11:04

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Rustenburg - South African police on Sunday blocked and dispersed a march by hundreds of striking miners against a security crackdown in the country's restive platinum belt.

AFP reporters on the scene said workers dispersed peacefully after a row of armoured police trucks stopped them from marching on the police station in the northwest town of Rustenburg, a day after officers fired rubber bullets to break up a protest by miners in nearby Marikana.

"The police have blocked us. They are dispersing us. Now we are telling our people to go back to where we came from" in order to avoid any conflict, Gaddhafi Mdoda, a workers' committee member at Anglo American Platinum, told AFP.

Workers were not carrying their usual protest gear of machetes, spears and sticks a day after police moved into platinum giant Lonmin's strike-hit Marikana mine to raid worker residences and seize weapons.

Hundreds of officers raided worker hostels and also used rubber bullets and tear gas on Saturday, with clashes breaking out in a shantytown opposite the mine.

The marchers had planned to march on the police station on Sunday to protest against the use of force, exactly a month after police gunned down 34 protesters at Lonmin in the worst security violence since the fall of apartheid 18 years ago.

Peaceful

Mdoda said the dispersed police station march had been "peaceful".

"But they are telling us that they are giving a few minutes to disperse, so that's a big threat," he said.

Rising strike tensions that have spilled over from Lonmin have spread around the region and forced shut-downs at several mines, including those of the world's top platinum producer Anglo American Platinum and number four producer Aquarius Platinum.

The government on Friday announced it would no longer tolerate the growing labour strife, saying it would act against illegal gatherings, weapons, incitement and threats of violence that have characterised the unrest.

Read more on:    anglo american  |  mining unrest  |  labour
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