Vavi woos back crowd after late arrival
Rustenburg - Cosatu heavyweight Zwelinzima Vavi was escorted by police on Thursday to Freedom Park near Rustenburg, where his audience left the stadium earlier in the afternoon.
Striking Impala Platinum mine workers became impatient when the general secretary of the Congress of SA Trade Unions failed to arrive to speak to them by 16:00.
They shouted down Rustenburg Mayor Mpho Khunou when he tried to restore order and they left the stadium.
Vavi arrived 20 minutes thereafter and was escorted by the police to convince the crowd to return to the sports ground.
On arrival at Freedom Park, he apologised for being late and requested them to return to the stadium.
The crowd jumped and ran down the road towards the sports ground.
They shouted "Vavi, Vavi, Vavi" when they arrived.
Vavi is expected to urge them to return to work after they embarked on an unprotected strike five weeks ago.
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.
Cosatu provincial secretary Solly Phetoe and Khunou were escorted off the stage at the insistence of the audience.
The workers shouted that they did not want to see the two alongside Vavi.
Police escorted the two to the back of the stage and the crowd backed down, waiting for Vavi to speak to them.