Mahikeng – A man was shot dead on Wednesday evening during a protest at the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine in Rustenburg, North West police have said.
Colonel Adele Myburgh told News24 that the incident was reported to the police at 20:40 on Wednesday evening.
In a statement, the Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine (RBPM) said that more than 100 protesters had tried to gain access to a locked shaft on the mine.
"According to information available, there were community members on their way to hand over a memorandum to the mine, but there was a shooting that started between mine security and community members, and this 37-year-old male was killed," Myburgh said.
'Killed by live ammunition'
RBPM said that their security personnel had opened fire with rubber bullets and paintballs.
"An individual within the crowd was shot and killed by live ammunition. Based on preliminary evidence, including video footage, it is believed that the shooting was from within the group of protesters. The deceased was not employed by RBPlat," read a statement.
Myburgh, however, said that it was difficult to confirm whether the person was shot by a mine security personnel or one of the community members, adding that a post-mortem would determine the cause of death.
"Information shows us that security was using rubber bullets, and some of the community members were using sharp ammunition, so it’s difficult to say definitely at this stage," she said.
The mining company extended its condolences to the family.
"During the incident, the protesters set fire to a conveyor belt, of which approximately 200m was burnt. A boom gate, as well as a guard house, were also damaged. There was no other damage to mine property, or injury to mine employees," read a statement from the mine.
Myburgh said no arrests had been made.
The protest was allegedly over the dismissal, in December, of 14 employees who were involved in a strike protesting the suspension of services by the local municipality.
The mine called for calm, noting other protest action in the area.
Violence brought Rustenburg to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon, with several houses torched.
Rustenburg Mayor Mpho Khunou said that the violence, which broke out at a minibus taxi rank, was a case of mob justice.
"Members of the community, together with the taxi drivers, targeted areas well-known for drugs, prostitution and human trafficking," he said.
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