Rubber bullets fired at N West protest as miner deadline looms

2014-05-13 21:43
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Marikana burning

Violence has reportedly flared up at Marikana as striking miners take to streets.

Johannesburg - Police used rubber bullets to disperse a protest in Mmaditlokwe informal settlement, near Marikana, on Tuesday, North West police said.

Brigadier Thulane Ngubane said that the protest did not appear to be related to the on-going platinum strike, but was related to complaints against a nearby chrome mine.

"The community members blockaded roads with burning tyres and rubble in protest against apparent and recent blasts at the nearby Tharisa mine."

They claimed that blasting at the mine damaged their homes and affected their children's health.

Police tried to reason with the protesters, but they ignored appeals to disperse.

"In order to bring calm, the police were forced to use rubber bullets to disperse the unruly crowd."

Fourteen women and two men were arrested. They would appear in the Marikana Magistrate's Court soon to face charges of public violence.

"People dispersed when police made arrests and the road was cleared then. There is nobody there now, they went home."

No injuries were reported and police would continue to monitor the situation.

Deadline for miners 

Tensions have been running high in the area, as Lonmin has given employees until Wednesday to return to work. Several recent killings in the area have been blamed on intimidation related to the platinum strike.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union objected to employers approaching miners with their wage offer directly in a bid to end the four-month strike in the platinum sector.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum operations in Rustenburg, North West, and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Earlier, Ngubane appealed to political parties to stop fuelling tensions in the area.

"This country is not a banana republic. It's a state with laws and those laws must be respected. We are going to have a zero tolerance approach to anyone who breaks the law.

"Economic Freedom Fighters leader [Julius Malema] said miners should intensify their strike. People should be cautious of the statements they make," Ngubane said.

EFF spokesperson Mboyiseni Ndlozi said the party would not apologise for the statements.

"We don't apologise for the statements we made while addressing the miners. We encourage the miners and the unions not to sell out. We are the only party that is encouraging the employees and employers to do what is right," said Ndlozi. 

NUM

On Monday National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) regional secretary Sydwell Dolokwana blamed Amcu members and Lonmin for the death of three miners. Two were killed at the weekend and another on Monday.

"We blame Amcu for the deaths because [they] intimidated our members who wanted to go to work on Monday," Dolokwana said.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told SABC news his union could not take the blame for violence in the platinum belt.

Implats, Lonmin, and Amplats have called on Amcu to exercise responsible leadership and to protect the rights of those who wanted to work and defended their decision to communicate with striking workers directly.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  amcu  |  num  |  mahikeng  |  mining  |  crime
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