Mine protests turn deadly in South Africa

At least two people have been killed and forty others arrested after striking mine workers clashed with police.

Unrest at South African mines have spread since the Lonmin strike in Marikana in August 2012. [Reuters]

At least two people have been killed in South Africa after a protest by mineworkers striking for better pay turned violent, police said.

Police said on Thursday the man was burned to death and a second man died from gun shot wounds at the informal settlement in Photsaneng near Rustenburg and a minibus taxi was torched.

Meanwhile, police fired rubber bullets at striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) miners near Rustenburg.

Gaddafi Mdoda, a strike leader, said that a brief confrontation occurred between police and some of the 12,000 striking miners who were fired by Amplats last week.

Police apparently were responding to the miners’ attempt to stop operations at Amplats’ Bathopele mine, according to the SAPA, which reported that two taxis transporting people to work and other places were set on fire.

International image

Phumla Williams, the acting government spokeswoman, said on Thursday that illegal and violent strikes are not helping South Africa’s image internationally.

In a media briefing in Cape Town following the executive’s Wednesday meeting, she said cabinet was concerned at the lawlessness, violence, and intimidation that continued to pollute the otherwise democratic right of workers to strike.

“It is a fact that as a democracy, the right to strike is a defined right in South Africa that obligates the strikers to observe that they cannot encroach on other people’s rights as they enjoy theirs.

“Our struggle for freedom and democracy ensured that our laws provide a space for protected peaceful strikes, which obviates the need for illegal strikes accompanied by violence and intimidation,” she said.

Anglo American Platinum said that it was saddened to confirm the death of one its employees “who was murdered on his way to work”.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased. We appeal for calm in Rustenburg and urge all our employees to refrain from engaging in acts of violence,” Chris Griffith, Anglo American Platinum’s CEO, said in a statement.

South Africa has been under the grip of labor unrest since August, when platinum miners in Marikana staged a series of strikes demanding higher pay. 

In a violent confrontation not seen since the end of apartheid in 1994, police shot and killed 34 striking miners and wounded scores more. 

Analysts say the Marikana strike, which ended with a hefty pay raise for the striking workers, inspired a wave of copy-cat strikes that have since spread to gold and iron ore mines as well as the trucking industry.

Most of the strikes remain unresolved.

Source: News Agencies