Stop fuelling tensions in platinum belt: police

By Drum Digital
13 May 2014

North West police appealed to political parties to stop fuelling tensions in the platinum belt.

North West police on Tuesday appealed to political parties to stop fuelling tensions in the platinum belt. "EFF leader [Julius Malema] said miners should intensify their strike. People should be cautious of the statements they make," said spokesman Brigadier Thulane Ngubane.

"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."

Those miners who wanted to return to work were escorted by police on Tuesday and no violence was reported.

Economic Freedom Fighters' spokesman 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.

On Tuesday the EFF said it would donate R50,000 to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's (Amcu) strike fund. It was created to help platinum mineworkers who have been on a wage strike since January 23.

"The EFF calls on all South Africans and the international community to also contribute in solidarity with workers," said Ndlozi.

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.

The strike has cost the companies about R14.4 billion in revenue and workers have lost over R6.4bn in earnings.

Implats spokesman Johan Theron said all operations remained closed at their mine.

"Our mine remains closed at the moment. The only staff that is working is the essential staff such as security, maintenance workers and hospital staff."

Lonmin has given a deadline of May 14 for employees to return to work.

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

"I don't take any blame. Why should I shoulder the blame? The point is clear since the start of the strike we said to the workers, those who are not members of Amcu, should go freely."

He told the broadcaster he was not accountable for the violence in Rustenburg.

"The violence in Rustenburg has not started in 2012 or 2014. We've got nothing to do with that. Police must do their work," he said.

On Monday National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) regional secretary Sydwell Dolokwana blamed Amcu members 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.

He said Lonmin was also to blame.

"Our employer urged workers to report for duty on Monday and they could not even ensure the safety of the workers."

Fears of friction between strikers and miners wishing to resume work arose when Amcu objected to employers approaching miners with their wage offer directly in a bid to end the strike.

Implats, Lonmin, and Amplats have called on Amcu to exercise responsible leadership and to protect the rights of those who wanted to work.

"We recognise the right to strike as a fundamental right of employees, a right which has been respected throughout the dispute," they said.

"But we have a responsibility to communicate directly with our employees... our employees wish to return to work, but have expressed a fear of continued intimidation and violence."

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