37 Xstrata protesters arrested

2012-11-14 07:08

Police have arrested 37 people during a protest at mining company Xstrata’s Kroondal operations in North West.

“The miners threw stones at the passing vehicles and burnt tyres,” said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.

“Police were dispatched to the area to control the unruly protesters and they had to use rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the minerworkers.”

There were no injuries to the group of about 200, which barricaded the road leading to the company’s Kroondal mine, he said.
Those arrested would appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.

However, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) claimed in a statement that police used live ammunition and that there were injuries.

In a follow-up interview, Numsa spokesman Steve Nhlapo said though Numsa stood by the claim that live ammunition had been used since problems started in the area of the Kroondal mine last Thursday, it had no access to anyone who had been arrested to prove this.

This denial of access was, in itself, worrying, said Nhlapo.

Numsa called for the immediate suspension of all the police officers responsible for this “ridiculous shooting of striking workers”.

The union was also worried about what it described as a growing trend of “some trigger-happy officers to use excessive force, particularly live ammunition, during the course of industrial disputes”.

Nhlapo said a striking worker had been shot at close range by SA Police Service officers, in front of an ANC ward councillor who was in the vicinity to assist in resolving the dispute.

He said the worker was shot with a rubber bullet and then detained by police in an incident on Monday.

It was only when a lawyer intervened that Numsa found out where he was.

North West police said only teargas and rubber bullets had been used.

Nhlapo said workers went on strike to demand that action be taken against a “racist white employee for assaulting a fellow black worker”.

The SABC reported last night that miner Joseph Koetje was allegedly assaulted for refusing to sign for a wage deal without the representation of the union.

Numsa said that instead of taking action about the assault, the company had “opted to co-opt the police to do their dirty work”.

However, Xstrata Alloys said yesterday that a properly constituted hearing had been held to investigate the alleged incident which led to the strike.

“The hearing ruled that there were insufficient grounds to find the accused guilty of the alleged assault after hearing from four individual witnesses,” said the company’s communication and transformation manager Christopher Tsatsawane.

“The investigation has consequently been concluded,” he said.

Tsatsawane said the company condemned any form of violence or intimidation and would continue to work to resolve the situation peacefully with the authorities.

He said the illegal and unprotected strike was by a group of “former employees” at Xstrata’s Kroondal operation, who blocked the entrance and road to the operation on Monday and yesterday, and intimidated Kroondal employees reporting for work.

The police had dispersed them.

Xstrata is one of the top five global producers of copper, thermal and metallurgical coal, ferrochrome, zinc and nickel, and also produces silver, lead, platinum, gold, cobalt and vanadium.

It employs more than 70 000 people at more than 100 operations in more than 20 countries.

According to the SABC, more police had been deployed at the mine to monitor the situation overnight.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.