South Africa police arrest dozens of miners

Crackdown on sit-in by thousands of workers of Gold Fields mine near Johannesburg to demand better pay, sparks violence.

    South African police have frequently resorted to use of force to disperse striking workers at mines [Reuters]
    South African police have frequently resorted to use of force to disperse striking workers at mines [Reuters]

    South African police have arrested 90 people after a protest at a mine turned violen, officials say.

    The miners were from the Gold Fields KDC Kloof mine in Westonaria, about 45km west of Johannesburg.

    More than 5,000 workers reportedly staged a sit-in there to demand better pay. All 90 arrested are due to appear in court on Monday.

    Police said they fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up the sit-in at the Westonaria police station.

    The crowd responded by breaking windows and causing other damage at the station, police said.

    IN DEPTH

    Al Jazeera's in-depth coverage of the mining protests in Marikana and elsewhere in South Africa:

     Feature: Sordid tale behind mine strife 
     Feature: Will Marikana resurrect Julius Malema?
     Opinion: Politics of law and order in post-Apartheid SA 

     Q&A: Marikana strikes

    Police said of those arrest, one was carrying a firearm. In a statement, police Brigadier Neville Malila said: "Public order police were called in to defuse the situation and break up the illegal gathering.

    "Negotiations with the group failed and rubber bullets and stunned grenades were used to defuse the situation."

    The miners were arrested on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property, Malila said. 

    Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, described the number of arrests as "extraordinary", citing a higher figure.

    "They arrested the bulk of them in a group of 72 who were held on Friday night after illegal march and protest sit-in."

    The protesters had arrived on buses earlier in the day to demand the release of 13 miners who were jailed on Friday afternoon. Sources told Al Jazeera that another five miners were arrested on Saturday morning.

    "There were 90 miners arrested in total over the course of about 24 hours. Most were charged with assault, attempted murder and suspicion as well," our correspondent said.

    In a separate incident, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters hurling petrol bombs after a march on an Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg turned violent late on Friday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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