Police in South Africa have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesting miners hurling petrol bombs after a march on an Anglo American Platinum mine turned violent.
South African Police Service said in a statement that about 1,000 protesters gathered on Friday night in a shanty town near Rustenburg, 120km northwest of Johannesburg, and marched toward one of the shafts belonging to Amplats, as the company – the world’s top producer of platinum – is known.
“Tear gas and rubber bullet rounds were used to disband the overzealous group,” it said.
The crowd responded with petrol bombs, damaging one police vehicle, police said. There were no reports of injuries, while four people were arrested.
Striking leaders from Amplats and other mines met on Saturday to discuss strategy.
“All of the mines that you know are striking, their [strike] leaders are here,” labour leader Evans Ramokga told Reuters news agency.
“Right now we are talking about the way forward … We are not afraid of dismissals.”
Amplats, which has said it is losing an average of 3,800 ounces of production for each day of the strike, has fired 12,000 wildcat strikers. Other mining firms have followed suit.
The continued labour unrest in mines has put pressure on Africa’s top economy to mend industrial relations.
About 100,000 workers, mostly in mining, have launched strikes since August, eroding investor confidence amid already shaky growth.
On Friday, truck drivers signed a wage deal ending a three-week strike that squeezed deliveries of fuel, cash and consumer goods. But that step forward was quickly overshadowed after rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, downgraded South Africa’s credit rating.
More than 50 people have been killed in labour-related unrest in the last two months, including 34 shot dead by police at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine on August 16 in the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid.