Violent protest at Anglo's Mogalakwena mine

2015-09-02 18:36
(News24 Correspondent)

(News24 Correspondent)

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Polokwane - A violent war has erupted between police and residents living near Anglo American’s Mogalakwena Platinum Mine as local citizens blockaded roads, demanding jobs from the mining company.

More than 500 residents in Malabana, a rural village north-west of Polokwane, halted traffic for several hours with burning tyres on Wednesday to demand jobs from the company mining on their doorstep.

The premier producer of platinum in the world is faced with revolt from communities. Officials have, since Monday, had to be escorted by police to the site.

The protest started on Monday after residents complained they were not considered for job opportunities on the mine. Protesters burnt the local clinic and vandalised garbage bins.

Police had to use rubber bullets to disperse protesters and made 11 arrests on Tuesday.

Community leader Piet Mashiane said they had resolved to embark on the protest because the mine was not helping to advance community development and empowering locals with opportunities to work on the mine.

"The mine must help develop our area... they are doing nothing," said Mashiane.

Protesters also accused the mine of not driving social and infrastructure development in the area, saying they didn't have water and their roads remained unimproved.

Mining company doesn't fulfil promises

Percy Mphela, a resident of Rooibok, where the mine relocates residents during expansion, told News24 they were protesting because the mining company no longer fulfilled its promises.

He said they were angry that when the mine expanded and sought approval from communities, it promised jobs and social development, which he said remained a broken promise and a lie.

They also said they did not have water in the area, and had to rely on contaminated stream water.

When the struggle ensued with police on Wednesday, residents said police fired rubber bullets and broke some residents' homes.

A furious Maria Ledwaba of Ga-Molekane said police broke her door and forcibly entered her house and broke her wardrobe because they accused her family of hiding protesters.

"The mine must resolve our problems immediately, because damage is becoming huge and our children are being arrested," said Ledwaba.

Eleven arrested for public violence

At least 11 people were arrested for public violence, said local police spokesperson Constable Sello Leso.

But Ledwaba said police were failing to resolve and restore peace because they were employing violent means to stop protest action.

Officials at the company were not immediately available for comment.

The protest over jobs started a day after Mining Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi signed a deal with the SA Chamber of Mines which sought to avoid planned job cuts.

Ramathlodi and mining companies signed an agreement that will see at least 11 000 jobs saved.

South African mining companies have been under pressure, accused of failing to develop local economies and helping transform the areas in which they operate.

Mogalakwena is part of the Waterberg mining belt, a key strategic mine for Anglo Platinum.

Read more on:    anglo american  |  polokwane  |  protests  |  mining

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