North West residents demand release of protesters

2014-05-14 19:46
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Rustenburg - Residents of Mmaditlokwe near Marikana in the North West burned tyres and blockaded roads on Wednesday, demanding the release of 16 people arrested for public violence.

Community leader Msokoli George said residents took to the streets on Tuesday after a massive blast at Tharisa chrome mine on Monday.

"The explosion was so high rocks fell close to the houses and the area was engulfed in a cloud of dust," said George.

He said 14 women and two men were arrested on Tuesday night for public violence after they embarked on a protest.

Residents have vowed not to sleep until the 16 have been released.

They told police Minister Nathi Mthethwa that they would only be satisfied if the 16 were released and their concerns pertaining to water, electricity and roads were attended to.

Mthethwa, who was on his way from Marikana police station, told residents that he would be back on Thursday, together with mine management and Rustenburg municipal officials, to resolve issues of concern to the community.

He told them those who were arrested were no longer in the hands of the police but were the responsibility of the courts.

Residents heckled Mthethwa as he tried to calm them down and explain the processes that led to the arrests.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on 23 January, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

The strike has cost the companies over R17.8bn in revenue and workers have reportedly lost more than R7.9bn in earnings.

The platinum producers recently resolved to approach striking mineworkers directly about their latest pay offer, in a bid to end the strike.

Amcu objected, raising fears of friction between striking mineworkers and those who wished to return to work.

Three miners and one of their wives were killed in separate incidents in Rustenburg since Sunday, prompting police to deploy reinforcements in the area.

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Read more on:    amcu  |  nathi mthethwa  |  mahikeng  |  protests
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