Miffed miners leave before Vavi pitches up
Rustenburg - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi arrived under tight security to an empty sports ground at Impala Platinum's No 8 hostel near Rustenburg on Thursday.
He arrived 20 minutes after the striking mineworkers had left the stadium. The crowd became unruly and impatient when Vavi did not arrive by 16:00.
They shouted "down Rustenburg Mayor Mpho Khunou" when he tried to restore order, chanted liberation songs and left the stadium.
Vavi had intended to urge them to return to work after they went on an unprotected strike five weeks ago.
Earlier on Thursday armed police and security guards kept watch in and outside the hostel. Access to the VIP area was strictly controlled. Barbed wire had been set up between the stage and the area where workers had gathered.
Earlier workers sang liberation songs while filing into the sports ground. Carrying umbrellas and wielding knobkerries they chanted in front of the podium where Vavi was to speak.
"Sifuna R9 000 [We want R9 000]," they sang while waving placards reading "Vavi help us, we are in danger by Impala, we want R9 000".
The workers downed tools demanding they be paid a minimum of R9 000 a month. The mine fired 17 000 of them after they refused to return to work.
The National Union of Mineworkers negotiated with Impala Platinum to re-employ them, but the majority, especially those working in the mine's southern shaft, refused to return to work unless they were paid R9 000.