Police keep eye on Amplats strike

2012-09-20 19:10
Tyres burn in the Sondela informal settlement next to the Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg after residents blocked roads to keep the police out. (Cynthia Matonhodze, AFP)

Tyres burn in the Sondela informal settlement next to the Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg after residents blocked roads to keep the police out. (Cynthia Matonhodze, AFP)

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Rustenburg - The police will continue keeping an eye on a strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines in Rustenburg, spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao said on Thursday.

"We are not going to tolerate illegal gathering and people carrying dangerous weapons," he said.

He said the police would maintain a high visibility and presence in the area, following a wildcat strike in the platinum mines.

He said everything was quiet on Thursday afternoon.

"We had no incidents during the day, it has been quiet."

He said police used teargas and a water cannon to disperse a crowd at Sondela near the Jabula shaft of Amplats mine in the morning.

Residents of Sondela blocked the road leading to Jabula shaft and all roads in the informal settlement, claiming police had shot them with rubber bullets.

They put burning tyres, rocks and other objects on the road to prevent police from gaining access to the settlement.

They said police fired rubber bullets and teargas at the striking mine workers, and that the community had also been affected by the shooting.

Resident Mary Matladi said the police fired rubber bullets and teargas at people who were not part of the gathering near the sports field.

"When they [mineworkers] ran to into their shacks, police followed them and fired randomly into our shacks," she said.

She said residents then barricaded the road. Hawkers' stalls were also burnt down.

"We are not on strike. Why should the police shoot at us?"

Residents also went to the Bana Pele Primary School, and asked school management to let pupils go home, but they were told the children were writing exams.

Pupils were later seen walking through the smoke from the burning tyres.

Miner Nelson Moyikwa said workers would not return to work until their demands had been met.

"We are striking for money, we want the money from the mine and not the police. They should leave us alone in our quest to fight [for] what is right for us," he said.

Worker leader Tebogo Lebeke said the miners had been on strike since last Tuesday, in demand of a monthly salary of R17 000.

"We have met management before, and negotiations were expected to continue next week on Tuesday, but we received an SMS from the mines, telling workers to return to work."

The text message sent to workers stated that conditions were conducive for them to return to work.

Lebeke said: "We are not going back to work until our demands have been met."

Angloplats said 20% of its workers reported for work and its Rustenburg Process Operations and the Bathopele mine had resumed full production.

"The company continues to be disappointed with the low turnout rate at four of its Rustenburg mines which are currently reporting less than 20% attendance," said spokesperson Mpumi Sithole in a statement.

"As already stated, our employees have until night shift today, [Thursday], to return to work failing which legal avenues will be pursued."

- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  amplats  |  mahikeng  |  labour  |  mining  |  mining unrest
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